July 9, 2015 by Chris Kite
Illinois has deep financial problems. This is a well known fact. Illinois pensions are underfunded by somewhere between $100B and $250B – depending on whose numbers you believe.
One attempt to try to resolve this problem was to change the pension system for Illinois teachers. In essence it says we were being too generous, cannot afford to be that generous, and will not be that generous in the future. The teachers unions are not happy. Many new teachers are not happy. That’s understandable. I’m not going to weigh in on the debate of whether or not it was the right thing to do. I do know that SOMETHING had to be done.
But the latest move by the Illinois State Board of Education is infuriating! Illinois hired a new state school Superintendent and promptly gave him a sweetheart deal. You see, rather than having to suffer like all the teachers, Illinois state school Superintendent Tony Smith gets special compensation to “make up” for the lower pension plan. That is a slap in the face to all the teachers that fall under the new plan and seems to admit that the new plan is inadequate. If it isn’t adequate for the state school Superintendent, can it be adequate for teachers?
Taxpayers often complain and fuss about public employee pensions. But the truth is, the vast majority of public employees get a pension that rewards them for years of work in the public service. These people aren’t the problem. The problem lies in the politicians making sweetheart deals for a chosen few. The problem is that there are a few “elite” members of the public sector that benefit greatly from abuse of rules or over-generous compensation. All these deals add up.
This needs to stop. The board members that gave Mr Smith this special perk need to be held accountable. The financial problem in Illinois is continuously made worse by these types of deals and they need to stop. Now!