Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Don't Cry For Me Illinois

As a result of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan's conviction on 18 counts of public corruption-related charges, he will lose his public pension he earned after 36 years of state service. Before you shed any tears for Gov. Ryan, you need to read this.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Ryan has been earning $16,419 monthly from his state-funded pension since he retired in 2003. Ryan's annual pension of $197,000 is 30% larger than current Gov. Rod Blagoyevich's current salary of $150,691. Ryan contributed $234,926.28 to his retirement fund over a 36-year period, but he's already collected $566,660. How is this possible? The Sun-Times fills us in:

Ryan has been able to benefit from several pension sweeteners that Illinois lawmakers passed over the years to benefit elected officials who serve beyond the 20 years necessary to get a top pension. Ryan has 36 years of service.

Illinois taxpayers should be outraged that its legislators have so skewed its public pension systems to unfairly reward some of its public officials. But that type of self-dealing is not limited Illinois. Congress has a grossly over-rewarding pension system for its members that often allows former members to earn much more in retirement than they ever earned while in office. Indiana legislators have devised a similar plan which requires the taxpayers to kick in $4 for every $1 the legislator contributes to his/her retirement fund. Has anyone found a 401(k) plan in the private sector that is that rewarding?

Taxpayers should demand a complete overhaul of these overly generous pension plans for our elected public officials.

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