A taxpayer group has some fixes they say are severe but necessary to shore up the state’s growing unfunded pension liability.
Taxpayers United of America released their 10th Annual Report on Illinois State Pensions. The highlights include more than 15,600 state pensioners collecting more than $100,000 annually. More than 92,300 pensioners make more than $50,000 annually.
Taxpayers United of America Executive Director Jared Labell said for the top 400 pensioners the average pension contributions made over an entire career is only about $40,000 more than what the average annual pension is.
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“For many of these pensioners they’re already recouping all of their contributions barely over a year of retirement. They’ve already made that money back,” Labell said.
Labell said something has to be done. “Look, this is not a good situation for any of us, whether it’s for taxpayers or for employees, and some solution has to be cut.”
Labell said some changes could include changing the state Constitution's pension protection clause or allowing for bankruptcy reorganization to alleviate pension obligations, but even that has its potential problems.
“But it also has some downsides in that politicians may then decide that they can spend frivolously with taxpayer dollars and then bail themselves out by declaring bankruptcy at the end of their term,” Labell said.
The state’s unfunded pension liability is $113 billion and growing.