From Day One: Jesiel Opts Out of State Pension Benefits

GURNEE – In one of her first actions upon taking office on July 2, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) indicated she would decline state pension benefits provided to members of the Illinois General Assembly. An accountant by trade and fiscal conservative, Jesiel said her decision reflects a personal commitment to fiscal discipline and her conviction that being entrusted as an elected official should be a public service and not an incentive for personal financial enrichment.

“I’ve chosen to be responsible to save for my own retirement, and not put that burden on the taxpayers of Illinois,” Rep. Jesiel said. “We have a pension crisis in Illinois and I don't want to make it worse by adding another future retiree to the system. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

“As an accountant with experience working for private-sector job creators and not-for-profits, I also understand how important responsible budgeting is,” Jesiel added. “Now that I have the privilege to serve our community in the Illinois House of Representatives, I want to set an example as to what fiscal responsibility is about. I’m here to bring my real-world experience to help set Illinois back on a course toward growth and opportunity for Lake County families.”

Representative Jesiel’s decision is final and irrevocable; as administrative rules within the state pension system do not allow a legislator to ever opt back in. Jesiel was sworn in as State Representative on July 2 to succeed former Representative JoAnn Osmond (R-Antioch), who had retired.

Currently, legislators who participate in the pension program contribute 11.5 percent of their annual salary to the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS). A legislator’s base annual salary is $67,836. Members with committee chairmanships and/or leadership positions earn more.

Under pension reform legislation enacted in 2010 that applies to new members who have entered the General Assembly since 2011, legislators can retire at age 67 with a minimum of eight years of service (or at age 62 with reduced benefits) and earn up to 60 percent of their final average salary after 20 years of service. Legislators who took office prior to 2011 remain eligible to retire at age 62 with a minimum four years of service (or age 55 with a minimum eight years of service) and earn the maximum 85 percent of their final average salary after 20 years, with annual cost-of-living adjustments.
Please contact Representative Jesiel’s District Office in Gurnee with any questions at 847-855-8600.