The Times | WRITE TEAM: Bankruptcy? Why not, Illinois?

TUA’s pension project on Illinois was featured in the following article at The Times.

timesILbankruptcyIllinois is in the red. It can’t pay its bills on time. The teacher pension plan is in a mess.

Maybe the solution to Illinois’ current money crisis is for the state to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. You might think I’m crazy, but hear me out.

Illinois’ line of credit has been downgraded; at the current rate, Illinois is losing its credit rating, Illinois won’t have any. Teacher pensions are at stake because certain organizations that shouldn’t be included in the teacher pension fund are, and people who only taught school for one month have access to a teacher pension.

According to former state Rep. Mike Boland, D-East Moline, the state should freeze all cost-of-living increases for 10 years on anyone receiving a $100,000 annual pension. When a person reaches the $100,000 mark, the freeze would go into effect. Anyone having a pension of between $80,000 and $100,000 should be under a simple interest system. Boland went on to say no retirees could receive full benefits until the age of 67, except those who work in public safety occupations.

Taxpayers United of America (taxpayersunitedofamerica.org) stated 17 Illinois State Police employees retired at the age of 50 and now have pensions greater than $100,000 per year. Taxpayers United reported in La Salle County, seven Ottawa municipal government employees who retired before the age of 59 will collect more than $1.5 million in pension payments over a normal lifetime.

La Salle County just settled a class action lawsuit brought on by a Freeport lawyer for improperly imposing taxes to pay for $5 million medical expenses per year.

There are plenty of ways Illinois could save money. The Chicago Sun-Times reported of a Chicago policeman who went on disability when he injured his shoulder in pursuit of a suspect in a crime. He collects $51,762 a year in disability, yet he went on to get a law degree and went on an African safari hunt in 2003.

This is not the only case. The Sun-Times reported several cases where Chicago cops were injured and went on to get a law degree or a different job. Why can’t the city put these people on a desk job if they can no longer be on patrol?

The Sun-Times also reported a $78,444-a-year Illinois Tollway garage supervisor had his photo taken sleeping on the job. In fairness to the Illinois Tollway Authority, they tried to fire him twice, only to have him win back his job.

The Sun-Times reported the Chicago Transit Authority could save money by ending paid coffee time, lunch and bathroom breaks, paying workers convicted of drunk driving 180 days to do nothing while they attempt to get their driving privileges back, paid holidays for birthdays and work anniversaries for bus drivers and motormen.

The Chicago Tribune reported about a deputy director of boxing who is getting paid for doing nothing. Why on earth do we need this job? The Tribune reported Illinois has paid $23 million since 2007 for 2,033 employees to stay home. Some 740 were off for more than 60 days. Sixty-eight were off for more than a year.

It seems Illinois has too many people on its workforce. Some 420 people were receiving unemployment while incarcerated. The city of Chicago could save $18 million a year by getting rid of 200 truck drivers who spend part of their workday loafing or sleeping.

By filing Chapter 11, Illinois could clean up the budget mess by eliminating unnecessary expenditures.

Stockton, Calif., recently filed for Chapter 11. I wonder how it made out?

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