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Retiring Illinois Lawmakers Make Bank on the Way Out

The representatives and senators leaving office in January 2013 will see millions of dollars in pension payments, figures far more sizable than they would've seen in the private sector.

Are you worried about your own retirement? With the downturn in the economy, did your 401k and savings take a big hit? If so, you're like millions of other Americans forced to confront a dramatically different outlook for their post-work years. But one group of pensioners is largely insulated from such concerns — outgoing Illinois lawmakers.

The retirement benefits Illinois legislators receive are far more generous than those most of their constituents could collect working full-time jobs, reports Scott Reeder of the Reeder Report, using data from an Illinois Policy Institute analysis in a piece published on Watchdog.org.

The anticipated pension benefits of the 34 lawmakers who will depart the state legislature in January show these pensioners will see better returns than they ever could have investing on their own dime.

State Sen. Chris Lauzen, who has been in office since 1983 and served on the Committee on Pensions and Investments, the Subcommittee on Pension Enhancements and the Subcommittee on Pension Reform, put $141,358 into his state pension plan. The Kane County Republican will leave office with a projected annual pension of $63,384 and a lifetime payout of more than $1.8 million, reports Reeder. 

An annuity with that kind of payout through the private sector would cost 10 times as much at $1.4 million, according to analysis by Jonathan Ingram at the Illinois Policy Institute, who computed the pensions of the outgoing legislators and the cash a private-sector worker would need to be able to purchase an annuity of equal benefit. (You can see the results of Ingram's work in the chart that accompanies this post.)

How do experts on pensions view these figures?

“Public pensions are inherently corrupt because it is the lawmakers deciding what their own pensions will be,” said Frank Keegan, an editor with State Budget Solutions. ...

Edward Zelinski, a law professor at Cardozo School of Law in New York and a national authority on pensions, called the Illinois legislative pensions “offensive.”

“I can’t say it is the most egregious in the nation, but I can say it is hard to believe there are many – or any – that are more egregious,” he said.

The lawmakers who leave office in January collectively are eligible for more than $25 million in pension payouts. The state legislature still has no plan to fix the $200 billion state pension shortfall, either.

Patch on Politics appears on the Patch network throughout the Chicago area.

Danni January 12, 2013 at 05:27 PM
I have been thinking they should be prosecuted under the Hobbs Act.
Danni January 12, 2013 at 05:30 PM
wish I knew you Granny-you are correct-the only answer is a revolt-a revolution-as they try to take away our guns and assets the doomsday clock is at 11:59.
Danni January 12, 2013 at 05:45 PM
thumbs up scotty-except Quinn is not a real person-he is a robot made from feathers and string and madigan pulls the strings. Quinn makes simpering a new art form-didn't you just vomit at "Squeezy the Pension Python?" Was that supposed to be cute? Is that what this mess is-CUTE? Maybe for them-who think they will still get millions in pension $ from us. But not cute for us who are frantic about what they are going to try to do to us next.
BobL January 27, 2013 at 10:27 PM
A Governor, a teacher, any public official convicted of a felony related to their job loses their pension. Also those of you that are living on a public pension, as I am, you do know what you feel about the legislators is similar to what the general public feels about all of us.
dale evans February 03, 2013 at 09:16 PM
The Federal Govt is 'borrowing' from their OWN employees pension fund. The Beast is eating it's own tail.

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