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Reform bloated pension plan

Sunday, December 24, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by Donald A. Jacobsen, Loop
Letter to the Editor


The Sun-Times recently featured several articles on the financial condition of Illinois, noting that an important component of the state's precarious financial position was unfunded pension liabilities caused by overly generous employee pension plans.

With pension plans as a serious financial consideration, we should consider the poster child for pension plans run amok the egregious pension plan adopted by the Cook County Board. Recently, it was reported that Commissioner Bobbie Steele, who served for four months as president, will increase her pension benefits from $85,000 to $170,000 per year, as a result of such service.

Steele's Web-based biography cites a high school graduation date of 1954, which would approximate her birth year at 1936. According to IRS mortality tables, Steele's life expectancy at age 70 is 17 years, so her four-month stint as Cook County Board president created an additional unfunded pension liability of about $1.445 million.

Since the additional $85,000 per year for Steele represents 100 percent of the real estate taxes paid by a whole row of Chicago bungalows, we should find a row and name the street after Steele. That's the least we can do.



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