When Gov. Pat Quinn leaves office in January, he's eligible to receive a comfortable yearly pension of $136,000. The question is: Will he accept it?
The Better Government Assocation reports that State Retirement Systems, which is funded by taxpayer money, has offered the six-figure pension to the 65-year-old Chicago Democrat, who cedes his post to Republican Bruce Rauner on Jan. 12. Writes the watchdog group:
The way the pension system works in Illinois: State employees contribute a small share of their paychecks (4 percent at a minimum) toward future payouts, and taxpayers and pension investments cover the rest.
Over the years, Quinn has contributed a total of $190,847 toward his state pension, according to interviews and public records.
That means Quinn could recoup his investment in less than two years. And if he lives another 20 years, an average life expectancy for a man his age, he would (absent pension reform) collect a total of more than $3.6 million, we found.
Quinn's yearly pension in 2035 could reach an estimated $238,476, thanks to generous cost-of-living raises that compound at an annual rate of 3 percent. (Again, this is assuming there's no pension reform.)
Illinois, meanwhile, is short some $111 billion in promised payments to five state pensions, a debt created by years of fiscal irresponsibility and exacerbated by the annual cost-of-living hike. Last year, Quinn pushed a pension reform bill that would 1) freeze cost-of-living increases and 2) boost the retirement age in an attempt to 3) get the state out of the red within 30 years. On Friday, a Springfield judge declared the bill unconstitutional, punting it over to the Illinois Supreme Court for future deliberation.
"The state of Illinois made a constitutionally protected promise to its employees concerning their pension benefits," stated Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Belz. "Under established and uncontroverted Illinois law, the state of Illinois cannot break this promise."
Quinn said in response that he's "confident the Illinois Supreme Court will uphold this urgently needed law that squarely addresses the most pressing fiscal crisis of our time."
A rep for the governor did not respond to Ward Room's request for comment on whether he'll deposit his own pension check after 20-some years of government service.