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Former Gov. Quinn Is Collecting $137,000 Annual Pension

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Some of the main architects of the Illinois law that seeks to save the state money by reducing workers' pensions have begun collecting pensions of their own.

Former Gov. Pat Quinn began collecting one state pension the day after he left office and the remainder a couple of weeks later. According to information obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, the former governor is receiving $11,396 a month or approximately $137,000 annually. That includes a monthly benefit of $10,774.10 from the General Assembly Retirement System and a monthly benefit of $622.38 from the State Employees Retirement System.

Quinn's GARS pension started Jan. 13, a day after Republican Bruce Rauner was inaugurated. According to the pension systems' director Tim Blair, Quinn had to wait until the start of February to begin collecting his smaller, SERS benefit as "the GARS Article of the Pension Code allows the benefit to be effective the day after terminating service, while the SERS Article provides for an effective date on the first day of the month after termination of service."

On March 11, the Illinois Supreme Court will hear arguments on the pension overhaul that Quinn signed into law in late 2013. If the law is upheld, Quinn -- like other retired state employees -- will see his future retirement benefits shrink, since the law does away with compounded cost-of-living increases.

A former top aide says Quinn believes everyone who works for the state is entitled to fair compensation and that, should the court uphold the pension overhaul law, Quinn will accept the smaller benefit. The aide noted that Quinn is no different from other governors, namely Republicans Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar, who also are collecting six-figure pensions.

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State of Illinois
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Dan Rutherford

Quinn, a Democrat, accrued his pension during a long career in state government. He also served as state treasurer, lieutenant governor, and worked for a governor in the 1970s.

Other former politicians whose careers ended when they lost races last year are getting pensions too, including another primary figure in the pension law's passage. Former House GOP Leader Tom Cross, who lost a bid for treasurer, is getting approximately $6,700 monthly -- or $80,400 annually -- as a state pension. Although Cross voted against the final pension law, for years he urged Illinois to cut retirement benefits.

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Kirk Dillard

Failed GOP candidates for governor also are getting significant state pensions as well. Former state Treasurer Dan Rutherford began getting $9,600 checks --more than $115,000 annually -- on Jan. 13. Former State Sen. Kirk Dillard, who also was chief of staff to Gov. Edgar, has received a $6,267 monthly pension -- about $75,200 yearly -- since September, when he resigned to chair the Regional Transportation Authority, with its $25,000 annual salary.

Quinn hasn't yet announced whether he'll get a new job. But, at a public event last week  in Chicago, he said since leaving office he's been spending his time playing basketball, watching sports and taking walks. He hinted that getting back into citizen organizing is in his plans, though he did not completely rule out running for political office.

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