Six term Wheaton Republican Peter Roskam is a powerful figure in the U.S. House, where he chairs a key panel on tax policy and wants to delay Medicare and Social Security benefits for millions of Americans by raising the eligibility age.
But Roskam - who has criticized his home state as a “fiscal basket case” and marshalled opposition to a federal rescue for Illinois’s troubled pension funds—began collecting his $37,452 annual pension from the state for his years as an Illinois lawmaker at the first legal opportunity last year when he turned 55.
Roskam is one of three members of Congress from Illinois who had previously served in the Illinois General Assembly and are now getting pensions from the state for their years in Springfield. Like Roskam, all began cashing in on their 55th birthdays under generous rules established by the state legislature long ago for its own members.
One of them, Republican Mike Bost of Downstate Murphysboro, in 2012 threw a tirade over a pension reform bill on the floor of the Illinois House. It was so spectacular that a video of it went viral on You Tube. The other, Evanston Democrat Jan Schakowsky, once used her congressional office to urge against a reduction in annual benefit increases for public pension recipients in Illinois—of which she was one.
Bost, 56, gets $73,018-a-year in retirement pay from Illinois while Schakowsky, 72, gets $27,888. And that comes on top of the regular $174,000 salaries paid to all members of Congress. Schakowsky and Roskam also have qualified to receive federal pensions after they retire from the U.S. House, while Bost has three years to go in office before reaching that landmark. […]
Expressing concern for long-term solvency of federal programs for retirees and the elderly, Roskam also backs proposals to raise the age of eligibility for drawing Social Security benefits as well as qualifying for Medicare.
When it came to drawing his own Illinois pension, however, Roskam wasted no time taking advantage once he became eligible after turning 55 in September 2016. For his 13 years of service in both the Illinois House and Senate, Roskam recently began collecting an Illinois pension that starts at $3,128-a-month but will grow over time with automatic cost of living add-ons that kick in once he turns 60.
In Congress, Roskam frequently holds up Illinois’ fiscal crisis as a cautionary tale illustrating the need to bring pension entitlements under control.
In 2011, Roskam organized a letter signed by Republican leaders in the U.S. House as well as all GOP U.S. House members from lllinois warning then-Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois legislature that financial help to resolve the state’s pension crisis would not be forthcoming from Washington.