Editorial On Pensions
For decades, the people of Illinois have benefitted from the services delivered by their public employees. Further, Illinois citizens have benefitted financially from the terms of employment with these workers. Schoolteachers, state troopers, social workers and corrections officers all opted for public service under a series of tradeoffs proffered by the State of Illinois: State employees would be paid a lower salary than that of their private-sector counterparts, but in exchange they would receive specific guarantees. Critical among these benefits was a pension — a provision so critical that the state’s commitment to retirement benefits was enumerated in the 1970 State Constitution.
This arrangement — lower salaries for state employees in exchange for a constitutionally guaranteed pension — allowed the state to balance its budget, allocate resources to other state needs and provide critical public services. Just like a private-sector employee who chose to take a lower salary in exchange for an extra week of vacation, state employees willingly accepted less money in every paycheck in exchange for an alternative, deferred benefit.