Illinois is bleeding itself dry through pension payments with some higher-ranking government officials receiving millions, prompting calls for reform from state Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) and many of his GOP colleagues.
"We need to start moving new employees and many existing employees into defined-contribution retirement plans," Morrison told North Cook News. "This would signal to current or potential Illinois residents and businesses that we are willing to change course and not simply [continue] our tax-and-borrow policies ad infinitum."
While pensions have increased into six figures for certain occupations, funding continues to decrease along with budgeting for things like health care under the pension program, leaving the debt high and the liability higher. While on average a Social Security recipient will receive about $250,000 over a 17-year retirement, an average Illinois judge will receive almost $1.2 million in a span of 10 years, The Daily Herald reports.
Illinois state Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) | http://www.ilga.gov/house/Rep.asp?MemberID=1783
The increase in sizable pensions can be seen in almost any taxable good from online shopping to marijuana, according to the Prairie State Wire. The total debt of the state has peaked at almost $10 billion annually, leaving lawmakers scrambling for ways to pay for government-funded programs.
"Rather than amending the state constitution for easier income-tax increases, we should be informing the public about the state and local pension time bomb and considering a constitutional amendment to make pension benefit changes easier on a go-forward basis," Morrison said.
The pension crisis is growing increasingly worse due to the fact that, generally, people are living longer and collecting on their pension packages for a greater length of time. This leaves the state paying a larger group of people for a longer span of time.
"The 3-percent compounded COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) is not sustainable, especially as individuals are living longer and in many cases experiencing more years in retirement than they actually worked," Morrison said.
Adjusting pension promises to current and future state employees could present a more efficient solution to the growing debt the state is under when it comes to pensions. Instead, the state is increasing taxes to further fund pensions and, according to the Illinois Policy Institute, taxpayers will bear the burden of the pension crisis through fees on things like car registrations, parking and gas.