Illinois described as sinking under pension woes, redundancies
Illinois is sailing straight for an iceberg, and it's too late to change course, a Chicago attorney argued recently on his firm's website.
"It isn’t a question of 'if,' it is simply a matter of when," Eugene Keefe, a partner with Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, posted. "As I reported last week, the debt from this craziness was evaluated by Moody’s to already be a quarter of a TRILLION dollars. The amount of that debt is more than $250,000,000,000 and continuing to rise by tens of millions each day."
Keefe used the recent case of an Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) employee as an example of what is bringing Illinois down.
“Last week, we saw an Illinois WC Commission Investigator who became the center of a racist email probe,” Keefe wrote. “In response to the allegations, he is simply retiring to accept his personal version of the fake IL gov't pension pot-o-gold. Please understand this means he will shortly be making more tax-free money than he was while employed but he won’t need to show up any more or face further scrutiny.”
According to Keefe, one of the employee's emails mocked shootings of black and Hispanic children, and he sent several that included racist, sexist and anti-gay themes. Despite these emails, which were circulated from his personal address to employees in the City of Chicago Water Department, the employee will retire and collect his pension.
Keefe said the Chicago Tribune put the man's salary at $114,000, which entitles him to pension payments of $96,900 in his first year of retirement, or 85 percent of his highest annual pay. That figure will increase by 3 percent each year thanks to a provision in the Illinois government pension system, meaning that by six years after his retirement he will earn more than he did while working. Keefe notes that his pension payments will surpass $200,000 in 24 years, a milestone he is likely to reach, according to the attorney.
Keefe argued that instances like this highlight the folly of the Illinois government pension system, which he consistently refers to as “fake” due to the lack of funding for these high employee payouts. Keefe is a strong proponent of reforming the pension system, calling for an end to legislative and judicial pensions, and supporting proposals from Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and the Illinois Policy Institute to cut state pension obligations.
He also calls for the elimination of redundant positions.
Keefe called for top officials in the state’s 88 agencies, including the IWCC, to work to eliminate unnecessary positions and thus reduce the state’s pension burden by potentially millions of dollars. He noted that the IWCC faced a budget reduction of one third earlier this year as part of negotiations on workers’ compensation reform, indicating that there is fat to trim at the agency.
“Unless changes are made and made some time soon, our State Gov’t is going to hit the financial ocean floor when Wall Street pulls the plug on continued borrowing,” Keefe wrote. “The math above isn’t truly political or a “Republican” or “Democrat” issue because both sides of the political matrix have caused and contributed to the issue over the last half-century. There are also lots of folks like this former investigator from each party that bask in this gov't largesse.”