A year after retiring, Jones to get 51% boost

$168,661 A YEAR | Longevity bonus plus annual cost-of-living hike

Friday, September 11, 2009

Emil Jones Jr. is about to hit the pension jackpot.

The retired Illinois Senate president's state pension this year: $81,016.

In January, a year after his retirement, it skyrockets 51 percent, to $122,334, far more than his final Senate salary of $95,313.

That's when the Chicago Democrat cashes in on two pension sweeteners that legislators set up for themselves: a longevity bonus for serving more than 20 years in the Illinois Legislature and a cost-of-living increase./p>

Jones also has three other government pensions:

• $41,824 a year for his 21 years as a City of Chicago sewer inspector.

• $3,188 for his two years as a Cook County employee.

• And $1,315 for his 1½ years as a laborer with the Chicago Park District.

Jones, 73, began collecting those pensions 16 years ago, while serving as a state senator.

He didn't respond to interview requests.

Jones was a state senator in 1989 when the Legislature passed a law to enrich the pensions of legislators who serve beyond 20 years. At that point, they qualify for a pension equal to 85 percent of their final salary. For each additional year, they get 3 percent more. They have to be retired for one year before they get those bonuses.

Jones spent 36 years in the Legislature -- with those 16 years beyond 20 years of service entitling him to a 48 percent bump in his pension in January.

Others who have received longevity bonuses include Senate President James "Pate'' Philip (R-Wood Dale) and Rep. Ralph Capparelli (D-Chicago). Longevity bonuses are available only to those who held office before 2003 -- when legislators outlawed the bonuses.