Sweet Justice: Measure Advances to Raise Retirement Age For Lawmakers, Judges

First, the scoop from Clout Street at the Chicago Trib:

Lawmakers and judges would have to wait longer to retire and their pension checks would be limited under a measure that got full support today in a House panel.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, D-Orland Park, would raise retirement age for full benefits from 55 to 67 for lawmakers and 60 to 67 for judges. They could retire before 67 under the new plan, but the benefits would be lower.

"The day of people retiring at 60 and living 10 years is over," McCarthy said. "There are people retiring in their 50s and dying in their mid-90s. The system just can’t function with those kind of parameters."

McCarthy’s bill also would limit annual pension payments at the same level as Social Security — currently $106,800. The rules would apply to lawmakers and judges employed by the state after July 1. Lawmakers estimated the state would save more than $1.5 billion over 35 years.

Under the current system, some officials are able to receive bigger pensions than their salaries. Former Gov. George Ryan, who last month was denied by the Illinois Supreme Court any future state pension payments, had received about $200,000 annually in pension until he was convicted in 2006 on political corruption charges. He retired as governor with a salary of $150,691.

Heard from a judge not too long ago who had been appointed to the bench. His honor told me he sought the appointment because of the great retirement he would have after one term. I had hoped to hear something about his love of justice. No, he wanted the bench for the retirement package.

I hope the legislature moves this forward quickly.