MARION— A crowd of protesters gathered inside and outside the office of state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, to express displeasure with the proposed state pension overhaul to be voted on today.
The proposal includes pushing back workers’ retirement age on a sliding scale, a funding guarantee, a 401(k)-style option and reducing the employee contribution.
Illinois government has for years not met its funding burden for state pensions, and the amount now underfunded stands at roughly $100 billion dollars. That is causing interest costs of millions of dollars daily.
Under the proposal, which is expected to come up for a vote today in Springfield, retirees would continue to receive the current 3 percent annual compounded cost-of-living increases, but they would only get that rate up to a certain amount of annuity payments, based on years of employment.
A funding guarantee allows retirement systems to sue Illinois if lawmakers don’t make the full contribution to the fund each year.
The plan also would require the state to put 10 percent of the money saved annually through benefit cuts back into the pension funds beginning in 2016. It also would redirect the money the state currently uses for pension bond payments into the retirement funds once those bonds are paid off.
“Our pension didn’t cause the problem and stealing will not fix it,” said Alan Latoza, President of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) IL Retirees Subchapter 93.
“The average salary for a retired employee is around $32,000, but in Representative Bradley’s district it is much lower,” Latoza said. “Over 75 percent of retirees do not get social security or Medicare, and cutting the cost of living adjustment of these proud civil servants will put them on public aid.”
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“We need Bradley to support the people who voted for him,” Latoza added. “We need for him to vote no on any pension bill not supported by AFSCME and the We Are One coalition.”
Repeated attempts by The Southern Illinoisan to reach Bradley on Monday were not successful.
Latoza said the state did not hold up its end of the bargain it had with unionized employees but instead spent money however it wanted.
“We contributed to our pension plan out of every single check, but the state did not. They are required by law to make certain payments into all of our pension plans and they chose not to do that,” Latoza said. “What they did instead was take our money and put into the general revenue fund and spent it on whatever they wanted to spend it on. It was like a credit card with no minimum payment ever required.”
Jim Kirkpatrick, legislative aide to Bradley, was present at the Marion office and addressed the crowd, saying he would relay the concerns for the state representative.
—The Associated Press also contributed to this story.