Kay convinced stopping pension spiking will require constitutional amendment
Republican House hopeful Dwight Kay points to the practice of “pension spiking” as just one of the latest examples of how Illinois taxpayers are being railroaded.
“It is unconscionable that anyone would be doing this at taxpayers’ expense and many of them not even knowing it’s happening,” Kay told the Metro East Sun. “This mind-boggling act is also taking away from educating students because so many resources and so much money is being dedicated to other things like these pensions.”
An Illinois News Network (INN) investigation recently uncovered that some public schools have continued to grant raises and sick time pay for retiring educators well over the threshold designated by a 2005 state law that imposes stiff fines and penalties for all violations.
The most recent “pension spiking” took place during a time when the financially strapped state was forced to operate without a state budget in place and as many top school administrators lamented the prospect of major staffing shortages as a result of all the severe underfunding.
The practice is also expected to drive up taxpayer-funded pension payments in a state where taxpayers are already wrestling with the weight of being on the hook for some of the highest tax rates in the nation.
“Right now, we’re paying more money for everything other than the kids and students,” said Kay, a former state lawmaker running against incumbent Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville) in Illinois’ 112th District. “We’re paying for promises where no one did any economic forecasting. When you get to a point where pension payouts exceed what we’re paying to educate students that becomes quite a dispiriting reality.”
In the time since the law was enacted, more than $50 million in penalties has been pumped into the Teacher’s Retirement System fund, nearly half of it coming in the last three years alone.
Kay said he only sees one way out from under a system that has run roughshod over everyone in its path.
“A constitutional amendment seems the only way,” he said. “There’s no question something stern needs to be done regarding future payouts so that we don’t just continue to go down this road in a zero-sum game. I know amendments are hard to get done, but we have to do something before even more taxpayers decide enough is enough and we lose even more of our population base.”
Illinois’ 112th District includes Collinsville, Edwardsville, Fairview Heights, Granite City, Madison, O’Fallon and Wood River.