The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


December 5, 2013

Ill. workers, retirees worry about pensions changes


“I had factored into the future,” based on the current pension system, she said. “It’s just really scary right now to think about how we are going to do this.

“We might need to start looking now for another home, or I can keep working until the mortgage is paid.”

She said she is upset that the state’s pension mess got this bad.

“We paid our fair share of our pension; it’s the state that has not put in what they needed to,” she said. “People are feeling like they’re just violated, like someone stole their money for retirement.”

Barb Gilhaus said she never regretted her decision to work as a home economics teacher at a small rural school, even though the pay wasn’t the greatest.

“I loved getting up and going to work every day, but was promised a (certain) pension when I retired,” said Gilhaus, 73, who taught for 32 years in the Heritage School District in Champaign County before retiring in 1993.

Gilhaus, who lives in Downs, outside of Bloomington, won’t be as drastically affected by the new pension system as younger or higher-paid retirees. She now receives a pension of $30,000 a year and will continue to receive the 3 percent cost-of-living increases for a few more years, or until her annuity reaches $32,000 — her years of service multiplied by $1,000. After that, the retirement increase will start dropping below what it would have been under the current system, perhaps by several hundred dollars in total over the next 10 years.

But she said she and her husband count on every penny to make ends meet.

“It’s not like we live high on the hog; we take a vacation once every five years and save up in order to do that,” she said. “I don’t care whether (the reduced benefit) is 5 cents or $5,000 a year, it’s still a cut in my pension and it’s important to me.”

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