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updated: 11/28/2010 8:50 AM

Finally a politician who gets pension mess

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What a refreshing article, "New Leader Forgoes Pension." I had to check the calendar and make sure I was living in 2010 Illinois, where the history of corruption, greed and not worrying about the people has been standard practice for as long as I can remember.

What a breath of fresh air for any politician to realize the system is broke ($13 billion deficit and $80 billion unfunded pension liability) and vow not to be part of the problem.

It boggles the mind to realize how out of control our pension system is in Illinois. Is it any wonder that Illinois ranks dead last in unfunded pension liability and bond rating, putting us in a similar financial quagmire to California.

As a former businessman and employee of a Fortune 500 company, I generated millions of dollars yearly in new revenue, allowing the company to hire and pay the salaries of hundreds of employees.

In addition, they were able to voluntarily contribute $3.1 billion over five years to their global pension plan.

Incidentally, after fully funding their employee health care program for over 70 years, they have been forced by the new Obama health care program to discontinue their employee health care plan. After working for this firm for 32 years, my retirement pension was $37,000 per year.

Compare that to the pension plan our current legislators get in Springfield. Starting salary: $67,836. After the four-year vesting period, legislators receive 12 percent of their salary along with a 3 percent increase if retiring after age 60.

Then the escalator effect really goes into high gear. The pension payout spikes to 27 percent of salary after eight years in office, 45 percent after 12 years and finally the maximum 85 percent after 20 years.  Do the math and see if it doesn't make you sick.

Illinois has a great heritage and tremendous resources, yet the current politicians have dropped the ball. We desperately need new leaders who are not afraid to lead by example. Tom Morrison is blazing a new trail. Will other representatives get the message and step up to the plate?

Larry O'Neill