Former Chicago MayorRichard M. Daleywasn't the only city official to take advantage of little-known provisions in the state's pension code. His adviser Timothy Degnan made the same moves.
A longtime Daley family confidant, Degnan was appointed to Daley's seat in the Illinois Senate after Daley left in 1980 to run for state's attorney in Cook County. When Degnan joined the mayor at City Hall as intergovernmental affairs director in 1989, the mayor's brother John took over for Degnan in the Senate.
In 1991 Degnan, like Daley, jumped into the General Assembly Retirement System long enough to transfer his municipal pension credits into the more lucrative state plan.
Degnan, who a decade earlier had voted for the state law that allowed him to return to GARS, also handled some of Daley's pension paperwork when Daley made his move.
"This information is furnished to you at the request of the Honorable Timothy Degnan," reads a 1991 letter from the state retirement system to Daley.
When Daley got his Social Security number wrong on a form he had to fill out, it was Degnan who pointed it out, records show.
Degnan's pension switch allowed him to land a GARS pension based on his city salary, which was $103,000 when he retired in 1995. His salary as a state senator, six years earlier, was just $28,000. State law also allowed him to transfer city and county credits to GARS for only $6,796 in additional pension contributions, saving him about $157,000.
Degnan now receives $115,516 a year from GARS, thanks to a 3 percent annual increase. That's four times the amount he made when he was a state senator. There are 280 retired lawmakers who get less money from GARS than he does, and many of them served in the General Assembly far longer than Degnan's 81/2 years.
The $14,542 a year Degnan gets from the city municipal fund brings his total public pension to $130,058 — more than he ever made as a public servant.