New State Rep. Tom Weber Refuses Pension

A press release from State Rep. Tom Weber:

Weber Rejects Taxpayer Funded Pension

FOX LAKE – In one of his first actions since taking office, State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) declined the state pension provided to members of the Illinois General Assembly.

A small business owner and fiscal conservative, Weber said his decision reflects a personal commitment to fiscal discipline and his conviction that being entrusted as an elected official should be a public service and not an incentive for personal financial gain.

Tom Weber

“We have a pension crisis in Illinois and those elected to solve the state’s financial problems shouldn’t be adding to the strain already placed on overstretched taxpayers,” said Weber.

“My experience as a small business owner has taught me how important is to operate within your means and Illinois needs to learn the same.”

Weber’s decision to reject the pension is final and irrevocable.

Administrative rules within the state pension system do not allow a legislator to opt back into the system.

In 2017, the average legislative pension was $61,808 annually, up from $47,061 in 2008, an increase of nearly $15,000 in less than a decade.

“Considering the state estimates the pension debt at more than $130 billion for the five pension systems, and some outside estimates put that figure even higher, I don’t believe any new members of the General Assembly should be entering the pension system,” said Weber.

“I’m glad I won’t be adding to the problem.”

Weber, a life-long resident of the Lake Villa area, is a small business owner and prior to being elected to the Illinois General Assembly served on the Lake County Board and Forest Preserve Board since 2012. He and his wife have two adult children.

The 64th House District is split between Lake and McHenry Counties, from Crystal Lake in the south and stretching northeasterly to cover the communities throughout the Chain O’Lakes up to the Wisconsin border.

To learn more about Representative Weber and the 64th District, visit:<>.


New State Rep. Tom Weber Refuses Pension — 6 Comments

  1. Wow! Another person who has a moral base involved in politics !

    Thank you Tom for setting an example!!

  2. cal, you really need to jump on this bus.

    too much for so little.

    How about it?

  3. That is some good news!

    And here is the issue:

    Conflicts of interest are inherent everywhere in government and business. It’s why investment bankers can’t trade in the stocks of companies they advise. And why managers in corporations aren’t allowed to supervise family members.

    But in Illinois, overly generous pensions have helped turn part-time lawmakers into self-interested career politicians — making much-needed pension reform difficult.

    Just look at the lifetime pensions some recent retirees can expect for having worked part time in the legislature for 20 years: Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg, $2.5 million. Rep. Elaine Nekritz, $2 million. Sen. Kirk Dillard, $2.4 million. Those amounts are based on normal life expectancies.

    The state’s ex-governors also can’t escape the conflict-of-interest question. Jim Edgar created the much-maligned 1996 pension ramp, and Pat Quinn borrowed billions in pension obligation bonds, a flawed strategy. And yet they, too, can expect $4.6 million and $3 million, respectively.

    It’s no wonder Illinois lawmakers are so beholden to the status quo.

    The good news is there’s a trend Illinoisans can leverage: Legislators have begun refusing pensions. It all started when Rep. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine, while on the campaign trail in 2010 said he’d reject a pension. He felt he couldn’t credibly promise his constituents he’d reform pensions while benefiting from one, too. “If I had remained in the system, I would have been seen as part of the problem. I had to opt out.”

    Today, 50 current legislators — nearly 30 percent of Illinois’ legislature — have already opted out of the pension plan, according to the retirement system’s records.

    That includes 37 Republicans and 13 Democrats, from the conservative Morrison to the progressive Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill.

    Wirepoints launched an initiative in August to encourage legislative candidates to pledge to refuse a pension. So far, 15 legislative candidates across the state have signed that pledge to refuse a pension, if elected.

    The other good news: Ending pensions for current and future politicians is entirely within the General Assembly’s control. There are no unions to block the way. No low-income workers to be considered. It’s just politicians and their pensions.

    The transition away from pensions is simple. Lawmakers keep the benefits they’ve already earned, but going forward they’ll contribute to Social Security and/or a deferred compensation plan.

    Getting the remaining politicians to give up their pensions won’t be easy, though. Illinoisans will have to pressure those legislators that want to keep their pensions. Fortunately, politicians have given their constituents plenty of ammunition.

    For starters, lawmakers have failed miserably at their jobs. They haven’t balanced the budget in nearly two decades. They’ve created the nation’s worst pension crisis, as reported by Moody’s Investors Service. And they’re ultimately responsible for the net loss of 1.4 million Illinoisans to domestic outmigration since 2000, according to U.S. census data. All that has left the state at the brink of a junk credit rating. Lawmakers simply don’t deserve pensions.

    Then there’s the fact that Illinois legislative work is meant to be part time. Yet most politicians have private-sector jobs — including House Speaker Michael Madigan’s infamous position as a property tax lawyer. Despite that, lawmakers treat their part-time political work as if it were a full-time job — and grant themselves generous compensation to match.

    And most embarrassingly, at just 15 percent funded, the lawmaker pension plan is just plain broke. Without taxpayer bailouts, the fund would run out of assets in less than three years, based on data from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

    The stage is set for ending lawmaker pensions entirely. The legislators and candidates who’ve already rejected a pension are growing in number.

    The hard part for Illinois’ remaining politicians will be voluntarily overcoming their own self-interest. If they won’t, the next step is for Illinoisans to shame them into doing what’s right.

  4. Re: “Conflicts of interest are inherent everywhere in government and business.”

    All one needs to do is look at School Boards populated by former School Administrators, teachers and relatives of teachers who are supposedly negotiating with unions on behalf of the taxpayer.

  5. I agree!

    School boards have been out of control for decades.

    They are the real good old boy/girl networks.

    Townships aren’t even a rounding error in comparison.

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