Policy group offers plan to fix Illinois pension problems|The State Journal-Register

TUA’s Jared Labell was quoted by The State Journal-Register about battling the state’s pension crisis, during the pension release of Springfield and Sangamon County.

The director of a conservative fiscal policy interest group thinks he has a plan to shore up Illinois’ pension woes. featsjr
Taxpayers United of America Director of Operations Jared Labell said in a Statehouse news conference Tuesday his group has a three-point strategy to battling the state’s pension crisis: a constitutional amendment to address guaranteed pensions, requiring workers to pay 10 percent more into the system and passing legislation allowing municipalities to declare bankruptcy.
Labell said only 5 percent of Illinois residents collect a state pension but was against taxing retirement income. He said his group is against any form of tax increase.
“I’d be hard pressed to say which tax is worse than another, but in general lowering taxes is good and limiting spending has to be a goal,” he said.

The Belly of the Beast: Springfield and the Pension Crisis

View as PDF Springfield—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of its updated study of the top pensioners of Sangamon County government, Sangamon County government schools, Lincoln Land Community College, University of Illinois at Springfield, and Springfield municipal government. Also updated were the state pensions for retired judges (JRS), legislators (GARS), and state employees (SERS).
“Well over 1,000 of the Sangamon area government pensioners receive multi-million dollar lifetime pension payouts,” said Jared Labell, TUA operations director. “The pensioners’ average personal investment is only about 5.5% of the lifetime payouts, leaving taxpayers on the hook for funding the majority of the unsustainable government pension system.”
“While taxpayers struggle to make their property tax payments, working well beyond retirement age, these government pensioners enjoy gold-plated retirements beginning at the age of 58, on average. Pensioners collect millions of dollars from taxpayers well after their government employment has ended, and today we are seeing the results: current tax revenue is directed toward funding the behemoth pension system first and foremost, before other services and present needs.”
“Illinois has one critical budgetary problem: the government pension system. We need to stop overcomplicating things and simply solve that problem if we want to see Illinois flourish.”
“It is unconscionable that the state budget battle continues in the light of the dire economic situation Illinois faces,” continued Labell. “The battle over the budget wouldn’t exist if the power brokers didn’t ensure the perpetuation of the pension problem with an amendment to protect it from sane, necessary reform. This includes the legislators who create such laws and the judges who make any rulings on its legal challenges. Unless real reforms are made soon, the taxpayers of Illinois will merely be funding their own funerals.”
“Just take a look at the stunning pensions these judges and legislators get. It is no wonder that they protect the government pension cabal without hesitation.”
Arthur Berman retired from the General Assembly and rakes in a cool $228,960 annually! His estimated lifetime payout is about $3.7 million. His stake in that excessive payout? About 3%.”
Judge Tobias Barry is currently getting $204,083 in annual pension payments. Fortunately, he didn’t retire until 82, so his estimated lifetime payout is only a humble $2.3 million.
“There are now 12,154 Illinois government pensions of more than $100,000 and 85,893 totaling more than $50,000 each annually! Those are staggering numbers, considering that the taxpayers who fund these pensions get an average Social Security ‘pension’ of about $15,000 a year.”
“Retired from U of I Springfield, Aaron Shures enjoys an annual taxpayer funded pension of $115,332. Over a normal lifetime, he will get about $6.4 million in pension payments because he retired at the age of 51. His personal investment in his rich pension is about 3% or $193,624.”
“Ball Chatham CUSD5 retiree, Richard J. Voltz retired at 57 and his current annual pension is $167,685. He will collect about $5.6 million while he only contributed $206,988 of his own money. That’s a 3.7% investment in his own multi-million dollar retirement payout!”
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“Although we did not support or endorse SB 1 as any kind of pension reform, as it did more harm than good, the unanimous ruling of the Illinois Supreme Court clearly illustrates the limited options available to solve the pension crisis…and the answers are not tax increases,” said Labell.
“A constitutional amendment that is fair to taxpayers, as well as government employees, must be approved in 2016 to deal with Illinois’ insolvent government pension system. In the meantime, if the Illinois General Assembly increased individual government employee contributions to their own gold-plated pensions by 10 percentage points, it would save taxpayers about $150 billion over the next 35 years – about $4.3 billion a year – and save the State of Illinois from financial ruin. If all else fails, there is always the option of approving legislation allowing municipalities, government school districts, and other taxing districts in Illinois to begin the process of filing and restructuring under Chapter 9 bankruptcy.”
“For every day that the political class refuses to solve the government pension crisis, they are gambling with the future of Illinois, and doing so with your tax dollars.”
*Lifetime estimated pension payout includes 3% compounded COLA and assumes life expectancy of 85 (IRS Form 590).

TUA Releases Tax Survey of 98th Illinois General Assembly

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CHICAGO— Taxpayers United of America (TUA), one of the largest taxpayer organizations in the nation, has released its 16th biennial, non-partisan tax survey analysis, revealing the tax and spending records of every member of the 98th Illinois General Assembly from January 2013 to January 2015.
“The 98th Illinois General Assembly was mostly a disaster for Illinois taxpayers,” said TUA operations director, Jared Labell. “The most notable bill to come out of this session was SB 1, the half-hearted pension reform legislation that has since been ruled unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court.”
“This bill, sponsored by the leadership of both parties in the legislature, was a pathetic attempt at reforming the unsustainable government pensions in Illinois.” TUA did not support SB 1 because it did nothing to eliminate unfunded government pension liabilities and strengthened the guarantee that taxpayers must pay these government employee benefits.
“Our 16th Tax Survey contains a roll call of every legislator and how they voted on each significant tax or spending bill surveyed for this session,” explained Labell. “Legislators’ scores are normalized and range from 0% to 100%, indicating how often they supported taxpayers by voting against tax and spending increases. The best scoring legislators voted against all or most tax and spending increases and are included on the list of Taxpayers’ Friends, while those who most often voted against taxpayers are included on the list of Taxpayers’ Enemies.”
TUA has used the same methodology to evaluate each lawmaker’s record since publishing its first Tax Survey in 1983.
Based on TUA’s methodology for analyzing votes, the 98th Illinois General Assembly set a record for low-scoring legislators.
Click here to view the 16th Tax Survey of the Illinois General Assembly.
27 members of the Illinois House voted against taxpayers on every bill featured in TUA’s survey, earning each of them a score of 0% and a spot on the list of Taxpayers’ Enemies. Among those members in the Zero Percent Club are Jay Hoffman (D-113, Belleville), John E. Bradley (D-117, Marion), Laura Fine (D-17, Glenview), Jehan A. Gordon-Booth (D-92, Peoria), and Michael Zalewski (D-23, Riverside).
15 members of the Illinois Senate join their House counterparts in the Zero Percent Club, including James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D-57, East St. Louis), Julie A. Morrison (D-29), Dan Kotowski (D-28, Park Ridge), and Don Harmon (D-39, Oak Park).
“We are happy to report that 20 legislators earned their place on our list of friends, but that’s a depressing number, considering the fact that there are 177 members in the legislature,” said Labell.
In the Illinois House, Michael Unes (R-91, Pekin), David Reis (R-109, Olney), Thomas Morrison (R-54, Palatine), Dwight Kay (R-112, Edwardsville), and Jack D. Franks (D-63, Woodstock) all earned 91% scores for the session.
In the Illinois Senate, Kyle McCarter (R-54, Decatur) scored 82%, while Jason A. Barickman (R-53, Bloomington) and Chapin Rose (R-51, Champaign) both received 73%.
“Disgraced former Illinois Gov. Patrick J. Quinn (D) had a failing score of 10%. Quinn received credit for vetoing a bill that reduced transparency in the process of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, but that veto was eventually overridden by the Illinois General Assembly.”
“With an average score of 34% in the Illinois House and 24% in the Illinois Senate, there is much to improve upon when it comes to legislators defending the taxpayers of Illinois,” said Labell. “Taxpayers are encouraged to study our analysis and keep these scores in mind for the next election. While legislators continue to advocate for higher taxes and increased spending during this session, it is our job to remind them that elections mean that keeping their office is not a guarantee.”