Editorial misstates state pension raise

Editorial misstates state pension raise

As a 20-some-year State Universities Retirement System retiree, I am puzzled by The News-Gazette editorial board's continued misrepresentation of the state's pension situation.

In the Jan. 1 editorial about resolutions for the Illinois General Assembly, you refer to an "annual 3 percent cost of living increase" — which is factually incorrect. SURS retirees have an "automatic annual increase" which retirees paid for during their working years.

For your information, Social Security does have a "cost of living" feature that has averaged 3.75 percent annually from 1975 through 2017. Maybe the SURS automatic annual increase should be increased to keep up with Social Security.

Your suggestion for switching new employees to a 401(k)-like plan does deserve consideration. However, to make this change does not negate the state's responsibility for the current huge debt to past and current employees. The Illinois Supreme Court has been pretty clear that the debt must be paid.

One advantage of such a switch is that future employees would necessarily be covered by Social Security and there would be real consequences to the state if it shorted or skipped payments to the feds — going to be real costly.

In your last paragraph you state, "The Legislature created this problem by overpromising."

No. Past Legislatures and governors created the problem by underpaying.

You are correct, however, that only the Legislature can solve the problem.

JOHN TERWILLIGER

Charleston

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