Pension Games

Published April 18, 2011

I hope every state lawmaker, local government official and government worker in Illinois read the excellent explanation of what has gone so wrong with Illinois’ government pensions (“A perfect pension storm,” Commentary, April 5), by Jeffrey Korzenik, a senior vice president and director of regional portfolio management at Fifth Third Bank). He did a great job explaining to the Tribune’s readers how the state’s government pension system has been gamed, and the consequences. The games include intentional underfunding by lawmakers to spend money on other things, and grossly exaggerating expected investment returns, which have benefited government workers (who could argue for fatter pensions) and the state and local governments (which could use lavish expected returns to reduce pension funding amounts and justify fatter pensions to buy votes of government workers and their families).

Lawmakers, government union officials and others with a direct stake in the state’s government pension system have known of these corrupt games for many years. The value of this article is that anyone who read it also understands these games. And those who have been benefiting on the sly these many years know we know it.

— Steve Stanek, McHenry