Tribune reporter Bob Secter's new, well-researched article on the pension funding crisis in Illinois is invaluable. So much of the local coverage on this issue has focused on the "he said/she said." Secter, by contrast, provides a fair and accurate depiction of the roots of this problem and concludes that the blame is largely due to an "absence of foresight and statesmanship on the part of state leaders from both parties." He also provides some important -- and often-overlooked -- facts about the pension system:
•Tales of fat pensions and abuses are legion, but lawmakers have carved out the juiciest benefits for themselves, judges and statewide officials. Rank-and-file workers get less, though they generally can retire with full pensions at a younger age than counterparts in the private sector. On the other hand, state pensioners can't supplement retirement benefits with 401(k) packages, and four out of five don't qualify for Social Security.
•State records show annual pensions now average $43,164 for retired public school teachers and $33,120 for retired university workers, but neither group receives Social Security. The average pension for retirees from the general state payroll — most of whom do get Social Security — is $26,663.
Read the whole thing here.