July 27th, 2020
Peoria Journal Star | Report details high state pensions for police
GERMANTOWN HILLS —A recently retired captain of District 8 of the Illinois State Police and the current director of the region’s covert drug enforcement group each receive among the highest state pensions.
According to a report released this week by Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America, those pensions – both above $110,000 annually – are in the top 100 in the state and are representative of a trend: State troopers and corrections officers make up an overwhelming majority of those who earn the most from state pensions after they retire.
Of the top 100 pensions in the State Employee Retirement System, 84 are state troopers or corrections officers and 28 of those retired at age 50 with pensions of more than $110,000 a year.
In both categories is Dean Kennedy, who left as captain of District 8, with headquarters in Germantown Hills, at the end of September with an annual pension of $119,184 – or 80 percent of his salary at the end of his career at the top of the trooper pay scale.
“I know I’m very fortunate, but yet on the other hand, I didn’t make them do this,” Kennedy said. “I understand people’s frustration . . . but it was a contract. It’s what we were promised.”
The former captain is among a block of about 20 former troopers in the middle of the list released by Taxpayers United who are drawing the same annual pension amount and mostly retired in their early 50s within the last two years.
Further down on the list of 100 is Rene Sandoval, who retired from his post with the narcotics enforcement group in the Quad Cities last summer to become director of the Peoria Multi-County Narcotics Enforcement Group. In addition to his salary for that job, he collects a pension of $111,381 annually. Sandoval declined to comment on the Taxpayers United report.
The president of that group, Jim Tobin, in a release on the results pointed to the amounts as “clearly unsustainable” and the reason that the state pension system is currently underfunded. As a solution, he suggested replacing government pensions for all new hires with Social Security, 401(k) investment plans and increases in employee contributions.
And to a retiree like Kennedy, that doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable. But it also wasn’t the reality under which he worked, he said. For more than 27 years, he paid 12.8 percent of his checks into the pension system as required, without any other options for his own money and without the option of Social Security.
“There’s some people who think (state employees) sit around and don’t do anything – that’s ridiculous,” Kennedy said. “All I can say is I knew I was getting paid very well, and I tried to do the best that I could for it.”