Departing lawmakers eligible for state pensions
Pensions were a major focus of state lawmakers who leave office Wednesday, and now many of them are eligible for the benefit.
State Rep. Tom Cross, 56, of Oswego, a former House Republican leader, can begin collecting an annual pension of $81,016 per year, according to the State Retirement Systems of Illinois. That is the highest among suburban lawmakers who are leaving office Wednesday.
The departing lawmakers are part of the General Assembly that, along with
former Gov. Pat Quinn, approved benefit cuts that will reduce annual cost-of-living increases in lawmakers' pensions. That's if the pension-cutting law passes scrutiny of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Quinn, 66, is eligible for a $128,549 annual pension now that he's left office, a little more than former Treasurer Dan Rutherford, 59, who is eligible for $115,319, according to the retirement system.
Former state Sen. Kirk Dillard, 59, a Hinsdale Republican who left his post early to be chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority last year, is eligible for a $75,212 annual benefit, according to the retirement system's numbers. Former state Rep. JoAnn Osmond, 68, also left her term early and is eligible for an annual pension of $49,337. State Rep. Sandy Pihos, 68, a Glen Ellyn Republican, is eligible for a $35,173 pension.
Dillard spent more than 20 years in the Illinois Senate, and pension benefits are based on pay and length of service. As such, state Rep. Darlene Senger, a departing Naperville Republican, is eligible for a $20,713 annual pension after putting in about six years in the Illinois House.
State Retirement Systems Director Tim Blair says state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, 46, of Elmhurst and former state Rep. Tim Schmitz, 49, of Batavia aren't eligible to collect yet because neither is 55. Schmitz eventually can collect an annual pension now worth $60,828, and Reboletti's is set at $32,858.
Former Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon isn't eligible for a pension because she didn't serve long enough, Blair said.
Cross said last week he's proud he helped start the pension-cutting talks several years ago. He ultimately voted against the plan approved in late 2013, siding with Gov. Bruce Rauner, who said it didn't save enough money.
"We started a lot of discussion on pensions," Cross told the Daily Herald. "It's an uncomfortable conversation that needed to be had."