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updated: 5/22/2011 8:06 AM

Courage needed to fix pension system

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Government pensions were originally intended to attract talented employees to traditionally low salary government service jobs. Retirement was an implied future compensation in exchange for accepting a salary below the private sector equivalent. Over time the salary gap between private sector and government jobs has disappeared, but the pension system has not changed.

As a member of Americans for Prosperity, I am writing to urge you to take the courageous path and support reform of our broken state pension system. We now have unfunded liabilities that we can simply no longer maintain. The system needs to be reformed so it can function within the scope of reality, pure and simple. The only other alternative is bankruptcy. We must face facts and take the necessary steps to avoid this preventable disaster.

The first step was made last year with pension reform for new state employees. Now we must take the next step by modifying the future pension plan for current employees. It is perfectly reasonable for Illinois taxpayers to ask state employees to contribute more toward their own retirement plans. State employees should be given the choice between a defined contribution plan, the reformed defined benefit plan that was enacted in the spring of 2010, or the current defined contribution plan with increased employee contribution levels. This will allow employees to pick the option that works best for their personal situation. Additionally, the retirement age must be raised to at least 65 for all state employees.

Illinois is broke, but together we can fix it if our lawmakers will have the courage to vote in favor of these difficult reforms.

Diane Fatouros

Schaumburg