Listen to this article

Austin Berg’s recent column used a new analysis from the Illinois Policy Institute to offer an obviously biased view of Illinois teacher pensions.

Berg claimed that nearly 75,000 teacher retirees will receive a lifetime payout of more than $1 million. He failed, however, to offer any information on the expected longevity of these retirees or how long they would have to live to claim their $1 million dollars.

Berg did admit that public-sector workers should not be ashamed for the “great deal” they are getting, noting that “Those who choose a life of service deserve honor and praise.”

I would add, “but not money.”

The Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System reported that in 2017, Illinois school districts paid an average salary of $71,773 to a total of 160,488 working teachers. In that same year, the average teacher retiree’s pension was $54,180. At that rate, a retiree would have to live at least 19 years after retirement to obtain Berg’s predicted payout of $1 million.

As a working teacher for more than 30 years, I managed to live through the low salary times and paid a percentage of each paycheck into the pension system. Now my pension is criticized as too luxurious. Would Berg consider it as a blessing to taxpayers if I experienced less longevity?