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Letter: Suggestions for solving pension problems

To the Editor:

I retired from teaching after 37 years in the profession and am a member of the Teacher’s Retirement System and the State Universities Retirement System. Pension reform is a coming reality. I would like to propose a compromise solution. This solution would require all parties involved to make some sacrifices. The parties should include employees, retirees, employers, taxpayers and state government.

I would suggest the following:

• Cap all pensions at $110,000. Allow growth in the cap per raises in the cost of living.

• Change the three percent Cost Of Living Adjustment to be the same as the COLA for Social Security recipients.

• Allow the COLA to compound until a minimum pension amount is reached and then end the compounding.

• Have retirees pay Illinois state income tax on their pensions.

• Ask current and new employees to contribute an additional two percent of their salaries to the pension fund.

• Have school districts and state universities pay two percent of their employees’ salaries into the pension fund.

• Equalize the five pension systems to require:

1. The same number of service years to receive full benefits.

2. The same health care subsidies for all systems.

3. The same retirement age for all systems.

• Base all pensions on the average of the last six years of highest six years of earnings prior to retirement.

• Make age 60 (sixty) the minimum age to retire with full benefits.

• Continue the pension program as a defined benefits program. Institution of a 401(k) program would ultimately end the defined benefits program. Since most state employees do not have Social Security (the ultimate defined-benefits program), dropping the defined benefits program would put these employees at a disadvantage versus private sector employees.

Vincent F. McMahon

DeKalb

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