Pension Update: Top 2005 State pension = $357,800

By Bill Zettler

The top pension in 2005 was $357,800 as opposed to last years measly $314,000. To give you an idea of what that pension is worth think about it this way: in order to receive $357,800 in interest each year you would have to buy a CD worth at least $7 million.

In 2005 the State of Illinois continued to make 1,000’s of pension millionaires out of retired public employees with the taxpayer picking up the tab. Here are some more disturbing pension facts:

*  In 2005 1,578 former state employees had pensions of over $100,000, up 40% from 2004’s 1,129. Next year we should easily cross the 2,000 mark.

*  Last year 24 former public employees had pensions greater than President Clinton. Despite a nice increase for Clinton, this year’s total is 29.

*  For the first time you need a pension of at least $150,000 to even make it into the Top 100.

*  Ninety of the 100 were University or K-12 employees meaning they probably spent the majority of their careers working 9 months a year with tenure.

*  Over 80% of the pension payment comes from taxpayers.

*  Over 275 state pensions had MONTHLY payments greater than average Social Security ANNUAL payment of $11,000.

*  Former U of I coach Lou Henson left Illinois for New Mexico years ago but we, the generous taxpayers of Illinois, continue to send him pension checks totaling $250,440 per year.

Another way to look at it is the top pension is 33 times the amount the average Social Security recipient receives and 12 times the median wage of the average full time Illinois worker ($28,806).

Why do average people, most of whom do not have enough money for their own retirement, have to pay taxes to buy the equivalent of a $7 million CD for one public employee?

If these former Illinois Public employees had been on Social Security and a 401K program during their working years (like the rest of us) taxpayer liability for their pensions would be zero as opposed to $182 Billion for the Teacher Retirement System alone. (see here)

Bill Zettler is a free-lance writer and consultant specializing in public sector compensation. He can be contacted at this email address. Click here to read more by Mr. Zettler.