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posted: 4/2/2014 5:01 AM

Focus on IMRF payment program is misplaced

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The IMRF 13th payment program was approved by the General Assembly in 1992. Now there is a bill to repeal this negotiated benefit. Why pick on this minor benefit?

IMRF is 96 percent funded on a market basis. As of December 2013. IMRF has $33 Billion in assets. The benefit is already funded.

The IMRF is a success story that should be celebrated as a model of how a defined benefit program can still work. Benefits are provided to individuals who provide you water, who plow the snow, repair water main breaks in subzero temperatures, collect your garbage, and provide support services in schools.

The average participant in IMRF earns about $37,000 a year. The average retiree collects a pension of $16,692. In 2012, 73.6 percent of the revenue to IMRF for current and future benefits came from investments.

Let's compare IMRF to another state of Illinois plan which according to the Illinois Policy institute, is only 17 percent funded. It has only $52 million of the $303 million needed today to meet its 33 year payment commitment of $900 million.

Unlike IMRF, which is already funded, state taxpayer contributions will total $13.9 million or 95 percent of the annual pension payout. Taxpayers contribute eight times more to the fund than employees. The fund has 176 active employees and 294 retirees. Employees in this plan receive 85 percent of their salary after 20 years of service.

What plan am I talking about? It is the General Assembly Retirement System. Only massive taxpayer contributions are keeping the system going.

Legislators who live in glass houses should not be throwing bricks. Actually, at this point, they may as well throw bricks because most of the windows on the glass house are already broken.

David Clark