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Report suggests payouts source of pension problem

SPRINGFIELD -- A watchdog group suggests the best way to fix the state's pension problem is to ask state workers and teachers to pay in more.
SPRINGFIELD -- A watchdog group suggests the best way to fix the state's pension problem is to ask state workers and teachers to pay in more. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

Their report shows workers get a lot more back than what they put in. The Illinois Policy Institute just came out with a report which takes a look at what some employees paid in while they were working, compared to the total amount of pension benefits they'll get if they live to 81. That's the average life expectancy.

In one case in particular, the report states the teachers' retirement system will pay out more than $8-million to one person, even though he paid in less than $400,000 while he was working.

It's an extreme example, but the group says that's why the pension system needs a better formula, so the state can afford what it's paying out. Similar talks about moving to a 401K-style plan are on the table in the special pension committee, but lawmakers have yet to agree on one idea to move forward.

Representatives for AFSCME, the state's biggest union of state workers, refused to acknowledge the report saying the numbers were distorted. The union released this statement:

Teachers, police, caregivers and other public employees pay into their retirement fund from every paycheck -- typically 8 to 10 percent.

The modest pension they earn and pay for is just $32,000 a year on average. It is their life savings -- and in most cases their only retirement income. Nearly 8 in 10 Illinois public employees are not eligible for Social Security.

The problem is the failure of politicians to pay their share. Instead, for decades, politicians have used the pension funds like giant credit cards. Right-wing lobbyists like the IPI are wrong to punish teachers, police and caregivers for politicians' misdeeds.

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