It's no secret that Illinois is facing a pension crisis of epic proportions, just as it's no secret that the state has borne the brunt of political corruption jokes for almost its entire existence. Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek explains what the two things have in common:
You've heard the one about dead people in Illinois voting, right? Well, have you heard the one about dead pensioners getting monthly payments you're helping to fund?
It's no joke. That's the latest revelation in a joint investigation by the Better Government Association and the Chicago Sun-Times.
The news organizations reported that pension funds for Chicago, Cook County and Illinois sent thousands of payments to dead people. From 2010 to 2014, 11 of 15 major pension funds made $2.2 million in payments to more than 1,000 dead people they know of, according to the Sun-Times and BGA. They now are trying to recover that money.
The BGA reported separately that the number of Illinoisans drawing an annual pension of $100,000 or more has jumped by more than 18 percent in just one year, adding to the state's funding pressures.
The number of people rightfully getting six-figure pensions grew to 14,320 during the past year from 12,056 in the prior year, the BGA reported.
Tracking the deaths of pension recipients is no easy matter and the money lost to dead recipients is minor when compared to the overall pool of payments made to all pensioners, according to pension fund officials who spoke with members of the two media organizations. Most family members report deaths so that pension payments do not continue in error.
Still, hundreds of thousands of dollars do go out erroneously. In one instance, a woman began to collect a survivor's pension benefit after her spouse died. When she died several years later, the pension fund continued to direct-deposit her payment into a bank account her daughter used.
Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.
Those deceased pensioners were once state employees. And for the still-living and still-employed state employees, handling payments for medical care could be about to get a whole lot more complicated. Mark Fitton of the Illinois News Network reports that the Department of Central Management Services, part of the governor's office, has told state workers it might not be able to pay for healthcare services for much longer. The announcement is only the latest on a long list of messes created by the lack of a Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Check out the whole situation at Reboot Illinois.