I’m a Democrat, but I think the Illinois Democratic legislature has mismanaged the teachers’ pension by failing to fund it for many years. Now they’re facing a huge financial crisis, and they tried to eliminate the cost of living stipend retirees receive each year. This amendment failed in court. Sometimes you have to think out of the box to find a compromise.
I’m a teacher retiree. I get a 3 percent raise every year. I would be willing to receive half of that for three years if it would help Illinois with its debt problem and ensure the solvency of the pension. I’m not rich. My pension is my only income. Maybe this would just be a drop in the bucket toward solving the problem; I don’t know. Teachers’ Retirement System would have to agree to it and get the backing of retirees — a hard sell. I can hear the backlash: “The state wants to save Illinois on the backs of retirees!”
Here’s how the math would work as best I can figure: The average retiree salary is $52,000. Three percent of that is $1,560, or $130 a month before taxes. That is compounded every year, and we’re living longer. $1,560 times 114,434 retirees is more than $178 million. Half of that saved over three years would be more than $267 million. I would be very suspicious about where that money would go. Promises would have to be made. Can they guarantee the raise would revert back to 3 percent after three years?
Judy Neel, Belleville