Madigan begins collecting $7,093-a-month public pension
Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan will collect $85,000 a year, but in a little more than a year his pension will shoot up to nearly $150,000 a year.
Ousted Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan collected his first public pension check March 24 for $7,093, or $85,117 a year, but he won’t have to worry about it becoming a fixed income.
A year from July Madigan’s state pension shoots up to $148,955 thanks to a pension sweetener no longer available to state lawmakers. That 75% bump results from a provision that once allowed lawmakers to “bank” 3% cost-of-living increases while still working for each year of service after 20 years or age 55, whichever comes first. Madigan “banked” 25 years of increases, according to the General Assembly Retirement System.
Because Madigan, 78, retired after Jan. 1, he will receive the benefits boost starting July 1, 2022. The sweetener will also allow former Senate President John Cullerton to retire with a pension that will spike to $128,000 just a couple of years into retirement. The perk was discontinued for lawmakers elected after 2002.
Madigan stands to collect $2.9 million from his pension over 17 years after contributing just over $350,000 during his 50 years in the Statehouse. Madigan announced Feb. 18 he was retiring from the Illinois General Assembly, and then quit as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois a short time later. He spent 36 years as speaker until he was voted out of the role Jan. 13.
Madigan’s power crumbled after Democrats lost a legislative seat, lost a retention vote for the Illinois Supreme Court and saw Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature “fair tax” proposal defeated. Opponents kept tying Madigan and corruption to the issues and candidates after the speaker was implicated in a more than $1.3 million bribery scandal to which Commonwealth Edison has admitted.
ComEd agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and pay a $200 million fine after admitting it hired Madigan’s cronies to get in his good graces so he’d back legislation worth about $150 million to the electric utility. One of those indicted was Madigan confidant Michael McClain.
Illinois faces an official estimate of $144 billion in pension debt, but it is independently estimated at $317 billionby Moody’s Investors Service using more realistic assumptions. Of the five statewide public pension systems, state lawmakers have shorted their own more than any other, with only 17% of the money it is projected to need.
Madigan was there for every bad decision that created that pension debt and Illinois’ fiscal mess. State lawmakers ended Madigan’s reign, but now they must handle his legacy of corruption and mismanagement.
They need to implement budget process reform, such as a spending cap and strengthening the balanced budget requirement, to encourage fiscal responsibility. They also need to amend the Illinois Constitution and implement true pension reform, fixing Illinois’ most challenging public policy problem. Madigan may get his full pension payout, but without reform future pensioners’ retirements are at risk and taxpayers are guaranteed to face a constant threat of tax hikes.
Madigan played a major part in creating Illinois’ pension problem. Now he’s reaping the rewards of his rigged system, and taxpayers have to face the consequences.