Illinois Review | Thorner: Illinois Forum prods Illinois Government in New Direction – Part 1

Taxpayers United of America’s President, Jim Tobin, was featured in an article by Illinois Review for his speech given at The 26th Anniversary Luncheon of the Illinois Forum.

The 26th Anniversary Luncheon of the Illinois Forum was held at Round Barn Banquet Center,1900 Round Barn Road, Champaign, Illinois, on August 22, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. Organized in 1989 by Chairman Robert S. Redfern, Illinois Forum promotes a smaller state government to restrain spending and to encourage tax cuts and further believes in returning the general assembly to a part-time legislature. As a volunteer movement, Forum members get the job done on their own and do not have to play by the same rules as politicians use to stay in power. Notable state conservatives from all sections of the State of Illinois attended the luncheon.
Chairman Robert Redfern in presenting opening remarks, spoke of the division that exists in this nation with one side believing in constitutional principles, the free market, strong national security and borders, self-reliance, individual freedom and traditional values. Opposing are those who believe in a constitution that means whatever they want it to mean. In discussing Illinois precincts, there are 11,000 in the state and many are not filled with committeemen. With one or two votes more in each precinct, Bill Brady would have been governor of Illinois instead of Quinn in the 2014 election.
Following the luncheon, four speakers were presented, each with great insight that seemed to demands a full account of their remarks.  Realizing that such a thorough coverage would be too lengthy for just one article, a Part 2 will follow.
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Left: Jim Tobin Right: Dr. Daniel Crane
Speaker 1: Jim Tobin, President, Taxpayers United of America 
In 1976 Jim Tobin  founded Taxpayers United of America (TUA), which has become one of the largest taxpayer organizations in the country.  Mr. Tobin has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV programs and his tax-cutting activities have been the subject of articles by major media publications. Jim Tobin received an M.A. in International Economics from Northern Illinois University, working for nine years as a Federal Reserve Bank Examiner, where he specialized in international finance. Tobin was one of the first economic experts to predict the collapse of Continental Bank and to warn of the dangerous extension of credit by U.S. banks to bankrupt foreign governments.
Attention was directed to a handout by Tobin of the 16th biennial, non-partisan Illinois Tax Survey compiled by the Taxpayers United of America (TUA) of the 98th Illinois General Assembly (2013-2014).  Noted on page 5 was a roll call of every Illinois legislator and how he/she voted on each significant tax or spending bill surveyed for the 98th session in terms of “Taxpayer Friends” and “Taxpayer Enemies.”   It was not surprising to note that all those cited as Taxpayer Enemies were Democrats, 56 in the House and 39 in the Senate.  As to Taxpayer Friends, in all, only 3 Republican senators were cited (Kyle McCarter, Jason A. Barickman, and Chapin Rose). The House did better with 17 qualifying members, but among the 17 Taxpayer House friends were three Democrats.  Listed in order percentage wise are the 14 Republican House friends with ratings from 91% to 73%:  Dwight Kay, Thomas Morrison, David Reis, Michael  Unes, Adam Brown, John M. Cabello, John D Cavaletto, Brad E. Halbrook, Jeanne M. Ives, David McSweeney, C.D. Davidsmeyer, Charles E. Meier, Wayne Rosenthal, and Joe Sosnowski.
Also discussed were the pensions of Illinois Government retirees.  A separate hand-out by Tobin listed the top 200 Pensions of Illinois Government Retirees as of 2/1/2015, assuming Life Expectancy of 85 and a 3% COLA compounded annually. There are 12,154 state pensioners collecting more than $100,000 per year and 85,893 state pensioners collecting more than $50,000 per year.
As stated by Tobin, huge pensions are outright taxpayer theft. It is stealing money from taxpayers to give to the political elite. There is no way taxes can be raised high enough to maintain the high pensions demanded by unions for their members. In regard to political leadership, the Cullerton family has been involved in politics for 80 years, with John J. Cullerton as president of the Senate.   As for Michael Madigan, he has 32 years under his belt and has managed to have his step-daughter elected as Attorney General, who seems to be in line for a future governorship of Illinois.
This must change if Illinois has any chance of getting out of its economic slump and low ratings in many areas when compared to other states. Statesmen must be elected instead of politicians.
Speaker 2:  Dr. David Crane, youngest brother of late Congressman Phil Crane
Dr. David Crane, a psychiatrist whose home is in Ohio, spoke of being 5th of 5 children, the baby of the family.  He and his siblings were raised in Hillsboro, Indiana.  One of David’s siblings, Dan Crane, is on the Board of Governors at Illinois Forum, which consists of individuals from various portions of Illinois.   Evident in David’s remarks was his love of country, which had been instilled in all five Crane children by their father, a doctor, who believed education was often mistaken for knowledge.  He instead believed there was more to education than just going to school and spewing forth what passes for learning by teachers and professors.  The Crane children were told to get involved and commit to changing the course of this country.
A fond recent memory was Crane’s participation in the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the now famous picture taken of a Navy guy kissing an army nurse at the end of WW II.  David found it difficult to speak at times, becoming choked up with emotion when remembering this encounter and others.
Mr. Crane spoke about a change that began in 1911 when those on the Left started to advocate that our country was a democracy.  Sadly after 100 years, a majority Americans now believe they live in a democracy. But this is what Benjamin Franklin had to say:

A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Copies of a letter were distributed by David Crane that was written in 2011 by his former congressman brother and now deceased Phil Crane who died last fall.  Phil Crane had submitted his letter, “My View”, to the Indianapolis Star for publication, but it was never published.  It is a letter that should be read by every high school student.  It details the importance of teaching our children to view our government as a Republic, perhaps the finest government ever established by mankind.
David Crane called it a smart move that one psychiatrist was assigned to every Infantry Division in the Vietnam War.  When relating a session he conducted with a group of students, Mr. Crane asked every 18 and 19-year-old to stand up.  He then spoke of what their immediate future would hold if the year were 1966:  Within 30 days they would be in drafted into the military.  After training they would find themselves on the way to fight in Vietnam.  58,000 Americans died in Vietnam.  There were 33,000 who were 18 years of age and 9,000 19-year-olds.  Even so, when called, the young men never hesitated to get into the mix to serve their country.
The most touching of the accounts related by David Crane involved gangster Al Capone, who despite his dealings with illegal alcohol, never went to jail.  Al Capone was represented and protected for years by his lawyer, “Easy Eddie.”  But Easy Eddie had a son he loved and didn’t wish his son to follow his chosen path in life.  In a turn of conscience, Easy Eddie reported everything he knew to the authorities about Al Capone.
As a result of his disclosure, Easy Eddie was found shot dead a year later in Chicago because of his squeal.  Then came the zinger to David Crane’s story.  Easy Eddie’s son, Eddie O’Hare — for whom O’Hare Airport is named — became a famous pilot who risked his life when he confronted Japanese planes on their way to attack American targets. Eddie “Butch” O’Hare was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery.
In closing, Dr. Crane believes if we are to save this nation, it must happen internally and not externally.  We must convey the message of freedom and the Bill of Rights.  As it took 100 years for the Left to take control of this nation, it will take 100 years to reclaim America as it was known by our forefathers.  But major sacrifices will be demanded of the American people.  Essential is that young people must be redirected to the task of saving this nation.  They must be tough and stand firm.  Hillsdale College, dating back before the Civil Was as a higher institution of learning, is attempting to change the direction of this nation by training students not only be Christians, but “tough” Christians who are willing to stand up to those elements who are determined to destroy our Republic.
Not to be missed is Part 2 of the 26th Anniversary Luncheon of the Illinois Forum. To be covered are revealing thoughts by Bill Bradley, former senator and 3 time candidate for governor, and Adam Andrzejewski, founder of ran for governor in 2010.
Phillip Crane's unpublished letter, My View, Page 1  Phillip Crane's unpublished letter, My View, Page 2

Pension Problems Hit Madison and St. Claire Counties

View as PDF  East St. Louis, IL – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) has released its most recent government pension study exposing individual pensions for Madison and St. Claire County government schools and county governments; Belleville, Collinsville, Alton, and Edwardsville municipal governments; and Southwestern Illinois College and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
“These government pensions explain why bureaucrats seek to increase taxes,” said TUA’s director of operations, Jared Labell.
“There are about 300 area government retirees collecting pensions of at least $100,000 annually, while 17.6% of St. Claire County residents live below the poverty level, along with 14% of Madison County residents.”
“Across 6 state pension funds, there are 12,154 government pensioners collecting six-figure pensions and 85,893 pensioners collecting more than $50,000 annually, where the state debt per capita is $24,959.”
“On average, these government pensioners contribute only about 5.5% to their own retirement payout. Taxpayers are forced to contribute $4 for every $1 that the government employees pay toward their own retirement. In the private sector, employees pay 15% of every dollar they earn into Social Security for an average pension of only $15,000!”
“Illinois’ state pension systems total nearly $200 billion in unfunded liabilities and the whole racket is inevitably unsustainable. The politicians have shown for years that they cannot be trusted to manage other peoples’ money, let alone their savings for retirement, nor should this be the role of government,” said Labell. “Each day that passes without transitioning new government employees from the current defined benefit plans to 401(k)-styled defined contribution plans is another lost opportunity to manage this ever-growing economic catastrophe. Not only would this change shield taxpayers from great financial risk, but it enables government employees to better manage their finances for their retirement needs and allows portability as they save for their own retirement.”
“Alton Police and Firefighters have some of the largest unfunded pension liabilities according to a 2013 report of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. The police funding ratio is only 29.3% and the firefighters fund is only 30.23%.”
“Taxpayers are on the hook for every penny of the shortfall in pension funding. Forcing taxpayers to pay such a heavy portion of someone else’s retirement is criminal,” said Labell.
“It is time to protect the future of taxpayers who have been scammed by politicians and union thugs into going along with a system that creates and constitutionally protects a special class of government elite.”
“It’s also time for union leadership to have a frank discussion with the rank and file, educating them on the inevitable collapse of an unsustainable crony system designed to siphon money from taxpayers for the benefit of the few. The unions should use those dues forced from members to bail out the pension system rather than use those funds to elect political cronies who keep them in power.”
“Take a look at the pension of Michael D. Gray who retired from East Alton SD 13. He gets $148,809 in annual pension payments. Retiring at only 54, his taxpayer funded pension payout will accumulate to more than $5.7 million! And his personal investment in that payout? A mere 3.7%.”
“Then there is Russell L. Clover’s pension. Retired from O’Fallon THSD 203, he gets $180,063 in annual pension payments. Those payments with compounded annual cost of living adjustments will accumulate to $4.5 million! His personal investment was only about 4.7%.”
Click to view pensions for

“This government pension system is the single cause of Illinois’ critical financial situation and it is mathematically impossible to tax our way out of this situation. 80% of local taxes go to fund government employee pay, pensions, and benefits.”
“The Illinois government has failed us; local governments have failed us. It is in everyone’s best interest to solve the pension problem before the system completely collapses. It is no longer a matter of ‘if’ it will collapse, but when.”
“Our solution is to immediately place all new hires into 401(k) style retirement savings accounts, increase member contributions to their retirement fund, increase retirement age for full benefits, and increase member contributions to 50% of health care premiums. Anything short of these reforms will do nothing to permanently solve the problem. If it takes a Constitutional Amendment, then we need to get that on the ballot in 2016.”

Perhaps it’s Time for a Taxpayer Strike

View as PDF Chicago—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) responds to the threat by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) to strike if taxpayers are no longer forced to pick up the 7% contribution to their pensions.
“It is amazing that Karen Lewis, CTU president, finds the notion of teachers paying their own way into their own pension fund, as dictated by statute, a cause to strike,” stated executive director of TUA, Rae Ann McNeilly.
“Paying 9% into their own pensions isn’t asking too much, is not a pay cut, and certainly isn’t unfair to the teachers who will benefit.”
“Taxpayers were forced to pay 7% of the 9% employees’ pension contribution without a voice and without a choice. Now that there is financial crisis in Chicago’s governments, bureaucrats are again looking to taxpayers to pony up even more of their hard-earned money.”
“Chicago teachers are certainly not underpaid civil servants with an average salary of more than $74,839, 9 months on the job, and Cadillac benefits. The teachers’ salaries alone are far in excess of the $45,000 average income of the taxpayers who pay them.”
“There has been a lot of talk and analysis over who is to blame for the current financial crisis. One thing is for certain; it wasn’t caused by the taxpayers who are constantly burdened with bailing out the mistakes of the bureaucrats who craft the deals that are so harmful to the taxpayers,” added McNeilly.
“The Chicago teachers, under the leadership of Karen Lewis, were on strike for seven days only three short years ago. All they have to show for their efforts are additional cuts to programs, massive layoffs, and school closings. CTU is willing to strike over their own investment in their respective retirement, but at what cost to the community?”
“And what are we getting for our money? Less than 65% of CPS students graduate. Which government employee or teacher representative gets paid based on the graduation rate, the single most important outcome? Who do we hold accountable when the Chicago teachers make more than any other school system in the region and are at the top in compensation across the country?”
“We have been calling for pension reform for years and to no avail. The CPS pension fund has, as predicted by TUA, reached the point of critical mass. Taxpayers have taken a pay cut every time government pensions have been sweetened and bolstered by bureaucrats who will never be held accountable for ushering in Chicago’s financial crisis.”
“I defy teachers, or any government employee, to look into their neighbors’ eyes and say, ‘you deserve another pay cut so I can make more in retirement than you make working.’ They have to be able to say to their neighbors, ‘I don’t care if you can no longer afford your home’s property tax payment, I want more.’ That is the reality of demanding more. If you are a teacher, your neighbor is your employer,” challenged McNeilly.
“As of our 2013 study of CPS pensions, Manford Byrd tops our list of taxpayer-funded annual pensions at $174,157 per year.”
“Barbara Eason-Watkins, Herman Escobar, Denise Gamble, Valerie Brown, Maria Rodriguez O’Keefe, Noemi Esquivel, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Miguel Trujillo, and Everett Edwards will all collect over $5 million in estimated lifetime pension payouts!”*
You can see the complete list of our top 200 2013 CPS pensions here.
“Short of full reform, we should at least end pensions for legislators and judges who tend to make decisions in their own best interests. We should also remove CTU from the equation. They add a layer of insulation between the employer and the employee, or the taxpayers and the teachers.”
“It’s time to stop the political blame game and get a bill passed for a referendum changing the government employee pension system to end unfunded liabilities and excessive financial burdens to taxpayers.”
“Taxpayers are fed up. For a well-paid teacher to demand even more blood from the individual taxpayers who make less, have little job security, and struggle to save for their own retirement is incomprehensible and unacceptable. We are ready to respond with a strike of our own.”
*Lifetime estimated pension payout includes 3% compounded COLA and assumes life expectancy of 85 (IRS Form 590).