I am continuously amazed at how Illinois politicians of both parties studiously avoid talking about public salaries especially teachers and university employees. By avoiding the subject of salaries they avoid one of the largest drivers of pension costs: vastly overpaid employees result in vastly over paid pensions since pensions are directly related to the salaries paid. For example why do we never hear anything about the 10,801 teachers with salaries over $100k?
If a teacher retires at age 55 with an 4 year average salary of $100,000 his pension will start at $75,000 and escalate to about $100,000 by the time he is 65, two years short of the normal Social Security retirement age where the max pension is about $30,000. Of course by the time you have retired on your $30,000 (maybe) Social Security the teacher would have already collected over $800,000 on his way to collecting $3.5 million using a normal life expectancy. So should a kindergarten teacher or a driver’s Ed teacher or a Phys-ed teacher or any teacher collect over $3 million (and sometimes $5 million) in pension payments? If put to a vote the answer would be a resounding “no”.
To get an idea of the magnitude of this problem we can compare Illinois to the states surrounding IL: WI, IA, MO, KY, and IN.
The number of teachers with $100,000 salaries in these states is as follows:
Kentucky: zero, none, nada
So these 5 states with a population twice that of IL (26 million vs. 13 million) have 1/250th as many $100,000 teacher salaries.
That ladies and gentlemen is a huge pension problem.