The August 10 opinion piece by Dennis Byrne in the Chicago Tribune, that the state pension shortfall was caused by overly-generous pension benefits paid to state employees and teachers is provably false.
Enough, We, and the Illinois public employees we represent believe the facts matter. Even on the opinion page.
FACT -- The state's pension debt was caused by politicians who habitually refused, over decades, to pay the state's modest share of pension costs, using the money instead to stave off needed tax increases.
FACT -- Four of five state pension system annuitants rely solely on their pensions for survival. By Illinois law, contributors to the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) and the State University Retirement System (SURS) are barred from receiving full Social Security benefits, even when they have been earned from non-education employment.
FACT -- The typical retired state employee on the standard formula -- those who do receive Social Security, including the caregiver for the disabled, the child protection worker, the state park employee --earns a pension of about $22,000 a year.
Dennis Byrne and the Tribune want the public to forget that the pension shortfall is the result of bad financial management by the state and that the present and future annuitants have always paid their share.
The truth should not be ignored or distorted. Even on the opinion page.
The following opinion piece from the Chicago Tribune was authored by Ed Geppert, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and Ken Swanson, President of the Illinois Education Association.