Pension tinkering legislation moves on to Illinois’ Governor

This headline was including on today’s Pension Watch website:

Two-Tiered Pension Legislation Moves on to Illinois’ Governor (Kevin Lee / Illinois Statehouse News)

Here is the opening of the report:

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn is going to consider whether or not state employees hired next year and later will have to work longer in order to receive their full retirement benefits.

Both the Illinois House and Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a controversial proposal that would establish a different pension system with slimmer benefits for new public employees.

This is worth repeating:

All this talk of a two-tiered system misses the point. Of course we can’t continue to promise unaffordable and unfairly generous pensions to state employees. But the problem isn’t solved by a second “tier,” the problem is the first/existing tier. The best plan proposed to address the problem tier is that put forward by salary and pension researcher Bill Zettler.

Zettler wrote last month:

We don’t need politicians to tinker at the edges of this problem — we need them to take a meat cleaver to it. The future tab for pensions and retiree healthcare cannot be paid as currently defined. Pretending we can will bankrupt the state, the pension funds or both.

The solution offered by most politicians and by some private organizations, however, has focused mostly on the creation of a “second tier,” where new hires would no longer be promised exorbitant pensions that the taxpayers can’t afford to pay.

That second tier is put forward like it’s a fix — when it’s only really a way to avoid angering the taxeating mob of state government employees and retirees that got in on the scam and who demand that the kids and grandkids pay up no matter what.

There is only one plan that I’ve seen which honestly deals with the problem that is the “first tier.” You have to fix the tier that was over-promised and under-funded for decades.

The plan comes from Bill Zettler, a business owner who has spent more years researching the excessive government salaries and pensions than almost anyone in Illinois.

Others might have spent time in similar research, but the important difference between Bill’s work and theirs is that he realized from the start that salaries, benefits, and pensions are not only unaffordable, but they are far more generous than what’s received in the private sector.

Others who study this bloated and bankrupt pension system have viewed it as just another entitlement that taxpayers have to pay whether they like it or not. Bill Zettler’s proposal faces reality. And believe me it is modest – because the solution I prefer is to force the system into the bankruptcy courts like the United Airlines employee pension plans of years ago.