Letters to the Editor

Tell the truth on state pensions

I would like to submit a correction to Glenn McCoy’s cartoon Tuesday that depicts a retired teacher throwing a pension debt time bomb at a young student. Based on the unanimous May 8 opinion of the highest court of our state, the entity responsible for the pension debt time bomb is the Illinois General Assembly.

The Belleville News-Democrat claims in its vision statement that it is strongly committed to its responsibility as Southwestern Illinois’ most compelling and trustworthy information source.

If indeed the BND wants to be trustworthy, then it is time to stop blaming teachers. The largest counties served by the BND are St. Clair and Madison counties. More than 5,000 retired teachers live in these counties and their pensions result in $200.6 million coming into the local economy. They are homeowners, taxpayers, patrons of local businesses and members of the community.

When they began their careers, they were not given a choice of pension plans but were automatically enrolled by their school district into the Teachers Retirement System. They were not allowed to participate in Social Security. A portion of every dollar they made was sent to TRS to invest along with the “match” from the state. They never skipped a payment.

Time to end the blame game. I call upon the BND to live up to its vision. Tell the truth about how we ended up with this large pension debt rather than attacking the retired teacher living on a modest TRS pension as his or her only source of income.

Marcia Boone Campbell