Reform and Renewal Strikes Again - UPDATED
Former state Sen. Carol Ronen's brief gig in Gov. Blagojevich's office has proven as lucrative as a win in the Illinois Lottery.
Ronen worked just eight weeks for the governor earlier this year, but that job will provide her with a windfall of at least $37,995 every year for the rest of her life.
Ronen's stint as a Blagojevich senior adviser is enabling the governor's onetime Senate floor leader to reel in a $102,000-a-year state pension. Ronen, 63, will earn 35 percent more in retirement than she did as a $75,301-a-year legislator representing part of Chicago's North Side lakefront.
Had Blagojevich not hired Ronen and she retired from the Senate at this time, her pension would be $64,005 annually.
But there should at least be some kind of rule among pension hustlers that if you're going to pull a move like this, that you have the decency not to try to defend it. Carol must not have gotten that memo:
Um, it may not be illegal, but it sure as heck is a scam. She's going to make more in retirement than she ever did while working. That doesn't fly in the private sector and it stinks in the public sector. I'm glad that at least that loophole was closed several years ago.
Ronen defended the money she will earn in retirement...
"My entire career has been devoted to public service, part of the time in the Legislature and part of the time in the executive branches of state and city governments," Ronen said. "My pension is based on all those years of service. It's not a scam."
But unfortunately, the last laugh is once again on the taxpayers as Carol will be laughing her way to the bank. Year after year after year.
UPDATE - And from the "Timing is Everything" Department, we get another eye-opening look at just how bad Illinois' pension problems are.
In the time it takes you to read this sentence, Illinois taxpayers will be $200 deeper in debt.You have to give the Administration credit, it takes a lot of testicular virility to dole out golden parachutes to loyalists and then talk about the need for pension reform.
The state’s pension debt will exceed $44 billion this summer, increasing at a rate of about $120 per second, according to Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration.
The debt already tops $42 billion — enough to give every one of Illinois’ 12.8 million residents a check for $3,300 or buy 937,000 Cadillacs at $45,000 a pop.
The combination of debt in terms of both money and percentage gives Illinois the infamous distinction of having the nation’s worst pension problem, according to an Associated Press review of records and interviews with experts. And there’s no solution in sight.