By: Pat Hughes

Not only are we supposed to accept the fact that our state government is overrun with sexual predatorswe are also expected to fund their lavish retirement benefits.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Speaker Madigan’s recently ousted Chief of Staff Tim Mapes will collect a pension of more than $135,000 per year. Mapes was forced to resign after Sherri Garrett, a longtime employee in the speaker’s office, accused him of making inappropriate comments to her for years. Mapes also allegedly brushed Garrett off when she reported another instance of sexual harassment by a member of the House Democrat caucus.

You are on the hook for Mapes’ six-figure pension because state employees receive their pensions unless they commit a felony related to their state duties.

It is another example of how the rules and culture in Springfield are set up to reward those in power, and enrich those who act like they are above the law.

Kevin Quinn, another top Madigan aide who was fired this year for persistent and inappropriate text messages to campaign worker Alaina Hampton, will collect a public pension as well. Quinn was a political worker for Madigan’s 13th Ward; however, he was rolled on and off the state payroll for 17 years. As a result of these games, he’s in line to receive $170,000 over a 30-year retirement. Quinn only contributed about $26,000 to his pension—we fund the rest through taxes.

Former Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) is set to receive an annual pension of 85 percent of his final legislative salary of $88,500. Silverstein lost his primary election bid this year after activist Denise Rotheimer shared evidence of sexual harassment he committed while they worked together on a piece of legislation.

Is it any surprise that Illinois has the largest unfunded pension liabilities in the country? Our system is broken. We should penalize lawmakers and state workers who are charged with harassment instead of reward them. We should close the loophole that allows political operatives like Kevin Quinn get public pensions.

Government worker pension costs consume more than 25 percent of the state’s budget while funding is cut from other vital state programs and services. It is time to move beyond the outdated defined benefit structure for government employee pensions and shift to a defined contribution, 401(k)-style retirement plan, like in the private sector.

Pension reform should strengthen and save the retirement benefits for state employees who have earned them, but there should be consequences for those who abuse their power and engage in harassment or misconduct.

Families here already pay some of the highest taxes in the nation and being forced to fund generous pensions for the likes of Tim Mapes, Kevin Quinn and Ira Silverstein is another slap in the face.

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