By Ghost of John Brown
The great news here in Illinois just keeps rolling in like a septic service truck. According to the Pew Center on the States and as Illustrated by Illinois is Broke, the State of Illinois' Pension system is only 51% funded. That makes us first in the nation!! Woo-Hoo!! Forget the Bears and the Blackhawks, when this State wants to win at something, we only need to look to our State Legislature and the fine group of Governors that we've had over the years. Be sure to click on the picture to the right for a little extra commentary on how we got here.
We can't lay all of the problems at the feet of our current fearless leader, Governor Quinn. The sad state of Illinois' pension problems have been sealed into fate by a laundry list of politicians.
Governor Jim Thompson came into office with the Illinois Pension System only funded at 47.4% (FY 1978). When he left office, the pension system was only around 58%. Jim Edgar took over and at least he got us up to 75%. Then came Governor Prisoner Pinstripes, George Ryan. In his brief tenure of four years, he completely wiped out virtually every bit of gain that the previous two governors made over a period of 22 years. Under Blagojevich and now Quinn, our pension funding is at 51% (FY 2009). The Pew Center study puts our liability at a staggering $126 billion. That's $30,000 for every household. Get our your checkbooks and start writing, you deadbeats.
Seriously, how are these idiots not in jail? OK, I know, George Ryan is in jail and Blagojevich is going there shortly. Mike Madigan has been the Speaker of the House, and for all intents and purposes, the ruler of the state since 1983. Interesting, that during the very brief period when the Republicans were in charge of the House during the mid 1990's we actually made a little progress on the pension problem.
If this were the private sector, all of these idiots would be in jail. Under ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act), the government establishes minimum standards for pension plans. The private industry is frequently the target of prosecution under the Act.
For instance, in the case USA v. Eriksen, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed that Northland Inn plan administrators embezzled 401k funds to cover operating expenses (hmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar). They only stole $1.3 million. What pikers. The people operating the State of Illinois' Pension System have misappropriated about $126 billion.
In the case of USA v. Jackson, the Burruss company essentially got into trouble because they stopped making payments to the retirement plans when they were financially strapped and used smoke and mirror accounting gimmicks to hide the problem (hmmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar too). John Jackson, Jr. was sentenced to 108 months in prison and his co-defendant Larry Carey was sentenced to 87 months.
In the State of Illinois, the politicians are free to roam, while the taxpayers have been sentenced to 30 years of additional taxation. Of course, it is largely our own fault, because we keep sending these idiots back to Springfield.
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