Letter: ‘Pension’ problem legislators’ fault
To the Editor:
There appears to be a lot of misunderstanding in Illinois regarding the funding, or lack thereof, for the state retirement programs, in which the term “pension” is misused.
Most of the state employee’s retirement payment is directly comparable to the federal social security (which state workers don’t receive).
However, unlike the federal version, the state retirement plan covers only the workers, not people who contributed little or nothing to the plan. As you pay for social security, realize 25 percent of your money is supporting other people who didn’t support themselves.
Further, social security taxes income at only 12.4 percent of total salary – 6.2 percent each from employee and employer. On the other hand, in the state program – at least for the university system – the employee is taxed at 8 percent, plus the university pays the state 7.5 percent, for a total of 15.2 percent of salary annually.
If you do not or will not receive any retirement funding other than social security, you cannot complain. It is an individual’s responsibility to make and abide by their own decisions in life. When considering a job, an applicant must consider total compensation (salary, benefits, perks AND retirement), and weigh the priorities of each – then live with their choice.
Solution for the current debacle? Changing current workers or retirees’ benefit package is unconstitutional and immoral. The employees have been promised this funding. (Would you like your paycheck reduced involuntarily after you have already performed the work?)
Changing future workers benefits will only work if state legislators are required to actually invest the monies deducted from the employees’ paychecks (and that would result in overfunding the plans in the future).
Remember, the retirement system would be fully funded currently if legislators did not steal the employees’ monies for years and squander it on other nonrelated programs. Raising taxes is unacceptable as we are already one of the highest taxed states, according to taxrate.org. Therefore, cutting other spending temporarily seems to be the best solution for the “crisis.”
Please raise your voices and demand that your state legislators take the right actions and fix this issue.