The year the State of Illinois decided to improved the pension system of state employees, Missouri took action on its employee pension system, too.
The pension was quite poor compared to other states.
Governor Jim Edgar’s administration and the AFSMCE union agreed on a trade-off.
No raises for a year in return for a better pension.
Because I held the pretty meaningless (all GOP budgeting power was held tightly by Lee Daniels) title of Committee Spokesman on one of the too many House Appropriations Committees, I was invited to a meeting of those with similar titles in a small meeting room in the Governor’s part of the State Capitol.
When the proposal was announced, I brought up what Missouri had just done.
I was familiar with it because the Sunday St. Louis Post-Dispatch had run a story about it in its legislative round-up of what happened in the Missouri legislative session which had just ended.
And, what had Missouri politicians done?
They had gone from a defined benefit program to one in which half of retirement benefits were defined benefits (read pension) and half were to be derived from defined contributions (think 401(k) plans).
Not yet realizing the lack of a role I had in the meeting, I suggested it might be better to follow Missouri’s example.
That’s when I learned the deal had been cut and we were being told of it ahead of other legislators because of the alleged role we had in the budgetary process.
When I read one of the front page stories in Springfield’s State Journal-Register on Sunday before going to the Old Capitol Art Fair for a second time, one headline read,
Hybrid plan urged for pensions
It was a proposal by two University of Illinois professors, Jeffrey Brown and Robert Rich.
One of them said the idea had been presented.
The State Employee Retirement System was funded at 34.94% at the end of last June, so I guess Jim Edgar’s contract didn’t work out too well for taxpayers.