The Associated Press highlighted the well-funded Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund yesterday.
You know why it has enough resources to pay the pensions local government employees have earned?
One reason is that forty-some years ago, it required participating governments like McHenry County to sign an agreement to agree over the next forty-year period to put enough money into the IMRF to enable the pension fund to have enough money to, as they say, “fully fund” the pensions of its participants.
It happened in the late 1960’s when I was McHenry County Treasurer, not that I had anything to do with the agreement, except signing the checks.
So, the IMRF has 100% of the money it needs to pay the obligations that have been incurred.
The five state pensions are funded at 63%.
Guess who gets to make up the difference.
You’ve got it.
It’s Illinois taxpayers.
And, lest I seem ungrateful, thank you for paying the taxes to pay my pension.
Recently, the Chicago Sun-Times pointed out that former State Senator Carol Ronan had used a loophole in the legislative pension plan to increase her pension by $38,000 a year for eight weeks work for Governor Rod Blagojevich at the annual salary rate of $102,000.
Ronan wasn’t the first to do that.
I remember that after State Senator John Friedland (R-Elgin) he took a lobbyist job with the Elgin Sanitary District for a couple of months at about the same salary and similarly jumped his pension.
Legislators appointed sanitary district trustees, myself among them during the 1970’s. We who were not from Elgin deferred to the recommendations made by Friedland, however. So, the people Friedland appointed gave him the job.
Earlier in his career, Friedland earned a figurative “Badge of Honor” for standing up to Governor Richard Ogilvie. Friedland refused to vote for the income tax Ogilvie proposed. Ogivie decided to make an example of Friedland, but, fortunately, for the concept of separation of powers, failed.
Blagojevich is merely following in the foot steps of former Secretary of State George Ryan, who allowed former Republican State Rep. Roger Stanley (R-Streamwood) a little work job that similarly boosted his pension.
Stanley admitted to various felonies and served time in federal prison. Among his admitted misdeeds was a postal fraud charge in which Stanley fronted for Lee Daniels’ House Republican Campaign Fund and created a fake organization that mailed out the hit piece reprinting the then-Northwest Herald’s Amy Mack’s reporting of my ex-wife Robin Meridith Geist’s false divorce court charges.
And, speaking of hiking legislative pensions, in the summer of 1999, Daniels chief of staff Mike Tristano asked me at Daniels’ DuPage County office if I would like to be assistant Auditor General. The salary would have been over $100,000, with a massive pension boost to follow.
In return for the appointment I would have to agree not to run in 2000.
I told Tristano if the offer were to be Auditor General, I would think about it, but not the assistant’s job.
I was later told that Daniels got to decide who filled that job in the deal to make Bill Holland Auditor General. I was told Daniels even put his former travel agent in the post. When she found out she would have to go to work, she decided she didn’t want the job, the story went.
After I lost the 2000 primary election to Rosemary Kurtz, another offer was made via Tristano. It was to be assistant director of the department where my former state legislative colleague Jack Schaffer had been director during Jim Edgar’s terms. The pay was about $96,000, with understood subsequent pension boost.
I decided to retire instead.