The Illinois General Assembly is currently considering a bill which would eliminate the "13th payment" from the IMRF retirement plan. Besides being in violation of the Illinois Constitution, this proposal is simply not right.
The 13th payment is not a "bonus" as some, including the Daily Herald, have characterized it. The 13th payment is a cost-of-living adjustment that IMRF retirees receive instead of compounding COLAs like other retirement systems (even the disastrous state pensions) receive.
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This cost-of-living payment was negotiated between employer and employee groups and approved by the General Assembly in 1992. At that time, a compounding COLA was estimated to cost 1.1 percent of payroll. The 13th payment -- only 0.62 percent.
The workers/retirees in IMRF have already compromised and saved Illinois taxpayers almost 50 percent versus a compounding COLA. (Perhaps that is one reason IMRF is currently 96 percent funded.) Having been guaranteed certain benefits, by the employers and by the constitution, these retirees worked weekends, holidays, overnights, birthdays, and anniversaries. These are people like sheriff's deputies, 911 operators, police evidence technicians and records clerks, snowplow drivers, highway workers.
They did the job and earned the retirement they were promised. Now it is time for us to keep that promise.