CAPCON|Tax Watchdog Highlights the Millions Some Receive in Pension Benefits

Taxpayers United of America’s executive director, Rae Ann McNeilly, was quoted by CAPCON about the workshop series: Fighting Government Pensions

It began as an idea to drive home for regular people the high cost of government pensions. It has become an ongoing project in a growing number of communities.
Five years ago, the taxpayer advocacy group Taxpayers United of America set out to find out how much former government employees are collecting in pension benefits, and publish both the amounts and the names of who’s getting these checks. The group also estimates the lifetime payouts from those pensions.
“It really rings home for the average citizen,” said TUA’s executive director, Rae Ann McNeilly.
“When people can see that this could be their next door neighbor collecting this money while they are still working (and) only dreaming of retirement, it makes them think twice about where their tax dollars are really going,” said McNeilly.
For example, TUA exposed a scheme whereby former Michigan Education Association President Iris Salters would be collecting a total pension payout of $3.8 million. It also broke the news of the payout due Grand Rapids City Attorney Philip Balkema, a total of $3.2 million.
TUA, based in Chicago, Illinois, collects pension data in a number of states, including Michigan, and publishes lists of the highest amounts collected by former school, city, county and state employees.
“It was not easy collecting that data,” said McNeilly. Government bodies were reluctant to release the data, she said, even with laws like Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act that require them to do so. But the group was not deterred.
“What we wanted to show was that government workers are not held to the same standards as private sector workers. Not only do government workers retire about ten years before private employees, they collect checks that increase in value year after year based on cost-of-living increases. The lifetime payouts can be outstanding,” said McNeilly.
TUA wants to maintain the momentum it has gathered by getting more people involved. The organization has sponsored workshops in Oklahoma and Nevada, and will hold its first event in Michigan on Nov. 12, 9:00-10:30 a.m. at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing. Workshop leaders will share best ways to use FOIA and methods of overcoming delays, denials and excessive costs. Pre-sale tickets are $5 until Nov. 9. The cost rises to $10 after that.

Vermilion County First|Watchdog Group Cites Vermilion County Pensions

President of Taxpayers United of America, Jim Tobin, was quoted by Vermilion County First during the pension release of Vermilion County.

A government watchdog group is citing some Vermilion County government pensions as examples of what it calls over-inflated pensions.  Taxpayers United of America President, Jim Tobin, says many Vermilion County government retirees are enjoying seven-figure life-time pension payouts.  ‘’Well over 1,000 of Vermilion County area government pensioners receive million-dollar life-time pension pay-outs.  The pensioners average personal investment is only about five-and-a-half percent of the life-time pay-outs,’’ says Tobin.
‘’While local taxpayers, whose average household income is about $41-thousand dollars, struggle to make their property tax payments – working well beyond retirement age – these government pensioners enjoy lavish, gold-plated retirements beginning, on average, at the age of 58,’’ says Jim Tobin.  He is the president of Taxpayers United of America, which released the report.  Taxpayers United of America is urging state lawmakers to do away with what it calls over-inflated pensions.
Tobin made his comments during a news conference in Urbana.  He added the state will soon have to start reducing pension payments, due to a lack of funds.  But he could not pinpoint when that is expected to happen.
Tobin thinks the pension payouts to many Illinois government retirees is outrageous.  ‘’I think taxpayers should be outraged as I am that these people are retiring in their fifties and sixties and living the ‘Life of Riley’ on our dime.  We have to keep working into our sixties and seventies, and in some cases we have to work until we drop – we taxpayers – so these people can retire in their fifties and live the ‘Life of Riley’ on our dime,’’ added Tobin.
More information on the study conducted by Taxpayers United of America on pensions in Vermilion and Champaign Counties can be found at

Danville Government Pensions in Crisis

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Danville, IL—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of their study of the top government pensioners of Vermilion County, Vermilion County government schools, Danville Community College, and Danville municipal.
“Hundreds of Vermilion County area government pensioners receive multi-million dollar lifetime pension payouts,” stated Jim Tobin, TUA president. “The pensioners’ average personal investment is only about 5.5% of the lifetime payouts.”
“While local taxpayers, whose average household income is about $41,000, struggle to make their property tax payments, working well beyond retirement age, these government pensioners enjoy lavish, gold-plated retirements beginning, on average, at the age of 58.”
“These ‘poor public servants,’ who collect more than the taxpayers who fund their salaries and pensions, enjoy nearly iron-clad job security and guaranteed increases in wages and retirement. These government employees are supported by a local economy where about 20% of constituents are below the poverty level. This is theft. This is immoral and unethical theft of taxpayers’ hard-earned money to be given to the political elite.”
“Danville fire and police pension funds are on the brink of ruin. With 25.1% and 35.23% funding ratios, respectively, and more retirees collecting benefits than employees paying into the fund, they are rapidly spiraling to insolvency.”
“There are now well over 12,154 Illinois government pensions over $100,000 and 85,893 over $50,000 annually! These numbers only pertain to the state pension funds and don’t include any of the hundreds of local police and fire pension funds! Those are staggering numbers, considering the taxpayers who fund these government pensions get an average Social Security pension of about $15,000 a year.”
“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. I want more of your money. I want more of your wealth. I want more of your property.’ That is the reality of demanding more lavish government pensions,” challenged Tobin.
“Retired Danville CCSD 118 government employee, David L. Fields enjoys an annual taxpayer funded pension of $164,769. Over a normal lifetime, he will get about $2.7 million in pension payments. His personal investment in his rich pension is about 5.8% or $155,718 – less than one year of the government pension benefits he collects!”
Phillip C. Morgan retired from Danville Sanitation and his current annual pension is $126,339. He will collect about $2.8 million, while he only put in $115,618 of his own money, less than one year’s pension payout. That’s a 4% 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!”
“A constitutional amendment that is fair to taxpayers, as well as government employees, must be approved next year to address the government pension crisis in Illinois. 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, or 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 moving forward with legislation to begin the process of allowing municipalities and government schools to file for Chapter 9.”
“Taxpayers must pursue these three paths forward to avoid disastrously higher taxes in the immediate future.”
“Rather than finding ways to perpetuate this horrible system that places copious amounts of cash in the hands of bureaucratic hacks, rank and file government pensioners should be calling for the complete reform and conversion to 401(k) style funds that place employees in control of their own futures. How many times will we trust politicians to do the right thing with the money collected for pensions and how many citizen groups will ‘discover’ that you just can’t tax your way out of this problem?”
“The choice is clear: without sweeping, meaningful pension reform, residents of Danville and nearly every other city in Illinois will have to choose between fully funding the pension systems to pay for past services rendered, or pay for the services we need today,” concluded Tobin.
*Lifetime estimated pension payout includes 3% compounded COLA and assumes life expectancy of 85 (IRS Form 590).