More than 100,000 Illinoisans have graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville during its nearly 60 years of operation.
As chancellor from 1998 to 2004, David Werner deserves some of the credit for the quality of education SIUE students received during that six-year period, but he deserves even more credit (or discredit) for the lesson he's taught all of us taxpayers since his retirement.
The lesson, unfortunately, already has cost a lot more than a four-year degree from the E, and we won't know the final tab until Werner enjoys an emeritus position at that Ivory Tower in the sky.
It's part of a course that could be called “How to Game the System as a State Employee and Live like a Millionaire in Retirement.”
We don't have to go to class for instruction or attend online because Werner doesn't lecture. After all, he's retired, right?
No, Werner has taught by example. He figured out how to game the system and all we have to do is study his methods, learn the obvious lessons, apply them ourselves if we were the sort of persons who did such things, and then enjoy an early retirement and a life of leisure at the expense of taxpayers – or go to an early grave worrying about how high state taxes will have to be raised to pay for all of the prodigies following in Werner's silk-slippered footsteps.
More than 92,000 Illinois state pensioners collect more than $50,000 each annually, according to a recent report from Taxpayers United of America. More than 15,000 collect more than $100,000 each every year.
Werner is one of the top 400 collectors (#76). He retired at the age of 62 and gets $252,704 in benefits yearly, which is more than the total he put into the plan. He's already collected two and a half million dollars and could eventually break five million.
Did we really need to learn such an expensive lesson? Can we get a refund?