Sen. Jason Plummer
Illinois state Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) argues a new Southern Illinois University poll that finds more than half of all state residents favor a system that would place caps on public employee pension benefits is a case of stating the obvious.
“Everyone knows that something has to change,” Plummer told the Metro East Sun. “I think I speak for the vast majority of people in Illinois when I say I don’t know anyone that has a problem with people getting a pension that they’ve earned. What’s frustrating is seeing people game the system, like with the career-ending earning spikes or the multiple pensions for some.”
In all, 51 percent of residents indicate that they would be willing to go as far as enacting a constitutional amendment to balance rising pension costs. While preserving the benefits of already retired state workers, the measure would allow for a reduction in future benefits earned by current and new employees.
“No system can be perfectly designed to avoid folks trying to game (the) system, but you can’t have the public in tough times and paying higher and higher taxes while refusing to reform a pension system that is being gamed by certain people,” Plummer added.
With pension costs already consuming more than one-fourth of the state budget, the proposal registers widespread support across the board, with 46% of individuals earning under $50,000 expressing support, 50% of those earning up to $100,000 and 57% of those topping $100,000. In addition, residents over the age of 66 showed the most support by that measure at 54%.
“You talk collecting pensions right now and people have a problem with the way some abuse the system,” Plummer said. “This is a taxpayer vs. pensioner system debate. This is about doing what’s right vs. what’s wrong.”