I believe there are still a lot of people in Illinois who don't understand whose money pays for the government union pensions in our state.
I am currently in central Missouri traveling for business. I had breakfast in the hotel lobby. A teacher on spring break from Rockford was having breakfast, and we struck up a conversation.
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She mentioned that she and all the other state employees have paid for their pension. It was her understanding that their money had been spent elsewhere by the state.
This lady was actually getting ready to retire, so I would have hoped she and others would be better informed. It is not their contributions that haven't been kept in the pension system. It is the requirement of taxpayers dollars that are used/required to supplement the pension program that haven't been fully made.
Billions of taxpayer dollars have been used for their pensions, but that still hasn't been enough. The program is absolutely nonsustainable. Our pension system is much more lavish than most other states, hence the problem.
I believe if a long-tenured teacher misunderstands that her contributions are actually in the system, certainly Joe Q. Public doesn't understand. We need to change the Illinois Constitution to allow reasonable changes to the pension system. If not, anybody that stays in the state of Illinois will suffer tremendously.
For example, the U of I pensioner who contributed $700,000 of his own money currently receives over $500,000 per year, and is expected to receive over $17 million in his lifetime. Over $16 million will come from the taxpayers, not his contributions.
We need to change the system to a defined contribution system, not a defined benefit system.