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Article posted: 2/20/2013 4:40 AM

Big pensions, high salaries are problem

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Big pensions, high salaries are problem

The problem with Illinois pensions is not lack of taxpayer contributions, it is out of control salaries and the pensions generated by those salaries.

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For example on June 28, 2012 a driver's ed teacher from Maine District 207 retired with a pension of $183,688. And he is not an anomaly: 15 teachers retired in 2012 with pensions in excess of $120,000.

I think that an $183,000 pension for a driver's ed teacher is an outrageous use of taxpayer dollars. Teachers, on the other hand, think every penny of the $183,688 should be "guaranteed" by the Constitution. What do you think?

In 2012, Illinois had 10,754 teachers with salaries over $100,000 while Wisconsin had exactly eight. Top teacher salary in Illinois was $206,000; top salary in Wisconsin was $111,000. And to receive full pensions Wisconsin teachers have to work until 65 to get 70 percent of their salary instead of 54 and 75 percent in Illinois. So if Illinois had Wisconsin's lower salaries, later retirement and lower payout there would be no pension problem.

In 1995 Illinois taxpayers were given a 50 year schedule of taxpayer contributions that would end in state pensions being 90 percent funded. Per that schedule the taxpayer payments due from 1996 to 2012 totaled $33 billion. Taxpayers actually contributed a total of $41 billion over that period or $8 billion more than we were told in 1995. Obviously taxpayer contributions are not the source of the pension problem.

Sen. Elaine Nekritz has stated Illinois is "reducing spending on health care for the poorest citizens including, for example, children who rely on ventilators for their every breath."

So what's more important: $183,000 pensions for driver's ed teachers or ventilators for poor kids?

Bill Zettler

Family Taxpayers Foundation

Carpentersville

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