Pension Reform

Government Pensions Gobbling Up Tax Dollars in Henry County

View as PDF Geneseo, IL – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) has released its most recent government pension study exposing individual pensions for Henry County government retirees, as well as Geneseo and Kewanee municipal, local school, and police retirees.
“There are more than 240 retired government teachers in Henry County collecting pensions that will accrue to seven-figure estimated lifetime payouts. Unlike the private sector, these government school retirees will become multimillionaires by not working and retiring on average at 57,” said Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayers United of America (TUA).
Across the five state pension funds and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), there are more than 15,661 government pensioners collecting six-figure annual pensions and more than 92,386 retirees collecting over $50,000 annually.
The median household income across Henry County is only $52,518 and the poverty rate is 11.3%.
“On average, these government pensioners will have contributed only about 9.8% to their own lifetime retirement payout. Taxpayers are on the hook for every penny of any shortfall in pension funding, whether funding the system through state income taxes or property taxes for IMRF, and the last decade has been disastrous. Forcing taxpayers to pay such a heavy portion of someone else’s retirement is criminal,” said Tobin.
“In the private sector, employees are forced to pay into Social Security for every dollar they earn, receiving an average annual pension of only $16,000 from Uncle Sam! That total pales in comparison to the amount of tax dollars siphoned away by government retirees every year.”
“More than five hundred Henry County government retirees are former IMRF employees in a county of barely fifty thousand residents. This should serve as a warning to taxpayers who are concerned about their rising property taxes, as cities like Geneseo and Kewanee in Henry County are forced by law to raise property taxes without a referendum to fund IMRF pensions,” said Tobin. “It’s legal plunder of hardworking taxpayers for the benefit of the political class.”
Jack B. Schlindwein, who retired in 2013 at age 54 from Geneseo CUSD 228, is set to receive the highest estimated lifetime pension payout in this study. His current annual pension is $116,882, and he contributed a total of $168,380 to his own pension, easily recouping his total contributions within two years of retirement. He has already collected $302,595. His taxpayer-funded pension payout will accumulate to more than $5.3 million! And his personal investment in that payout is a mere 3.2%.”
Harold E. Ford also retired from Geneseo CUSD 228, but in 2003, and at the age of 55. He currently receives the largest annual pension in the study, collecting $140,577 a year in retirement. The total contributions made to his own pension while employed, $138,952, were less than what he collects during a single year of retirement. His annual pension payments, with compounded annual cost of living adjustments, will accumulate to more than $4.4 million! His personal investment was only about 3.1%.”
Click to view the complete list of the following:

“The financial situation in Illinois is dire. Concerned residents and taxpayers must demand reforms from their local politicians and state legislators. Resolving the crisis is possible, but it won’t be an easy road, considering how many current and former government employees are entrenched in the system,” said Tobin.
“Transitioning new hires to 401(k)-style defined contribution pension plans would be a good start to halting the growth of the problem. As for the current unfunded liabilities, allowing municipalities, school districts, and other taxing districts to reorganize through Chapter 9 bankruptcy, or pursuing federal legislation to preempt the Illinois Constitution’s pension-protection clause, are both becoming very real possibilities if systemic reforms aren’t pursued soon,” said Tobin.
TUA’s most recent 10th Annual Illinois State Pensions Report contains additional data concerning the state’s government pension crisis and elaborates on further solutions to this long-term problem.

Woodstock Seeks to Reach Further Into Taxpayers’ Pockets

View as PDF Woodstock—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of their updated analysis of salaries and pensions for Woodstock municipal government employees.
“Woodstock government bureaucrats are trying to seize the opportunity to steal even more of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash by adopting Home Rule for its greedy empire building,” stated Jim Tobin, TUA president.
“There are currently more than 300 full and part-time employees for a population of less 25,000! Fourteen of those employees make more than $100,000 a year and 157 of those jobs are pension eligible.”
“At least fourteen of the current Woodstock pensioners will collect more than $1 million in largely taxpayer-funded pensions, while the average Social Security (SS) beneficiary will be lucky to see about $400,000 in lifetime payments.”
“Home Rule will give the Woodstock bureaucrats the power to tax and regulate, virtually without limit, anything they want without the approval of voters through a referendum. If a measure is good for the constituents, it should stand up to a referendum. This is one of the most important controls that voters have over their local government and there is no good reason to give it up and hand that power over to bureaucrats,” urged Tobin.
“Never forget that 80% of municipal taxes, including property taxes, go to pay government employee salaries, pensions, and benefits and that number is climbing as the state continues to make necessary cuts.”
“Woodstock city officials state it would be ‘irresponsible of them to not take advantage of getting the extra $151 in shared state revenue per person’ for the city, and that the city has a history of keeping taxes low for residents by not taking the property tax extension limitation law. Just where do these officials think that ‘state revenue’ comes from? The sky? All revenue comes from us, the taxpayers.”
“To help the average taxpayer understand the problem, we list the names of the pensioners and the amounts they collect in retirement,” added Tobin. “It really hits home when people see the names of their local ‘civil servants’, people in their community that they know at least by name, and the stunning amounts they collect from taxpayers.”
“Timothy J. Clifton, retired from the Woodstock Municipal Government, tops our Woodstock list and ranks 230 in the state of Illinois with a very comfortable $112,998 annual pension! The accumulation of those payments, over a normal lifetime, will reach about $2.9 million. His contribution to that gold-plated pension was only $342,341.”
Roscoe Stelford, III tops the list for our highest current Woodstock salary. This poor ‘civil servant’ takes in about $155,000 in salary alone! This doesn’t include the gold-plated pension and other benefits he gets!”
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“We need constitutional reforms that change the Home Rule statute to leave taxing power with the taxpayers’ approval and reforms that eliminate the political pensioners as a protected, elite class,” said Tobin.
“The era of smoke and mirrors to siphon wealth from the hardest-working middle class is over. We need to send a loud and clear message that their pattern of reckless empire building is no longer acceptable. Illinois is in a financial meltdown and if we allow local officials to pick up where the state has left off, there will be few choices left for taxpayers but to revolt or vote with their feet,” concluded Tobin.


*Lifetime estimated pension payout includes 3% COLA (simple interest) and assumes life expectancy of 85 (IRS Form 590). Nearly all IMRF pensioners also receive Social Security benefits in addition to their IMRF pension. Any blank spaces in the data are intentional and due to government redactions or withheld data points in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.

Illinois’ SURS Schooling Taxpayers

View as PDF CHICAGO—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of their updated analysis of Illinois’ State Universities Retirement System (SURS).
“SURS is in dire need of significant pension reform, much like the other Illinois state pension funds. But since individual SURS retirees are some of the highest paid employees, and therefore biggest pensioners in Illinois, the need for reform is all the more serious for both beneficiaries and taxpayers,” said Jared Labell, TUA’s director of operations.
“Last August, SURS Chief Investment Officer Daniel L. Allen sounded the alarm about the pension fund’s long-term solvency in a memo regarding their 2016 investment plan, writing, ‘SURS faces the real risk that the assets could be depleted in less than 10 years,’ adding, ‘Investment policy alone cannot close the SURS plan deficit. The deficit is too large.’ Although the narrative from government employees, union bosses, and likeminded politicians relies heavily on calls for more taxpayer funding due to skipped or decreased payments from the state, Mr. Allen points out that this is not so in this case, noting, ‘that since (fiscal year) 2011, SURS has received the full annual statutory contribution from the state of Illinois.’ So what’s wrong with SURS? It relies heavily on a defined benefit system that is costly for taxpayers and detrimental to Illinois’ overall financial health,” said Labell.

  • Total number of 2016 SURS pension beneficiaries is approximately 62,792.
  • 3,955 collect pensions in excess of $100,000.
  • 15,628 collect pensions in excess of $50,000.
  • The average 2016 annual SURS pension is $35,751.
  • The average amount that employees paid into their own pension fund is $48,764, or 5% of their estimated lifetime pension payout.
  • The average estimated lifetime payout is $947,211.
  • The average age at retirement is 61.
  • The average years of employment are 18.
  • The net return on investment for SURS in fiscal year 2015 was only 2.9%, or $593,600,000.
  • In fiscal year 2015, taxpayers were forced to pay $1,590,900,000 into the government pension fund.
  • In fiscal year 2015, SURS government employees paid $340,000,000 into their own pension fund.
  • At the end of fiscal year 2015, SURS had a 42.37% funded ratio with a $22.4 billion unfunded liability.

“Taxpayers were forced to pay 467% more into the SURS pension fund than the multi-millionaire SURS retirees paid into their own government pensions. That means that for every dollar that an SURS government employee contributed to their own retirement, taxpayers were forced to match them with a subsidy of $4.67.”
“For nearly two decades, Illinois has offered state university employees a self-managed retirement plan (SMP), similar to a 401(k), alongside the standard defined benefit plan controlled by politicians. The SMP gives government employees more power over their own retirement savings funds, makes retirement costs more sustainable over time, and protects taxpayers from budgetary uncertainty from year to year. The SMP active membership totals of 11,928 are far lower than the 69,381 active members in the old defined benefit plan, but if the SMP option was given to all current state employees and mandatory for all new hires, this one reform would go a long way in improving Illinois’ unfunded government pension liabilities.”
“As funding shortfalls accrue for SURS and the other government pension funds, Illinois’ political caste will be to blame for the bankruptcy of their constituents and the eventual reduced benefits for pensioners. Continuing the defined benefit pension system in Illinois guarantees that a constitutional crisis will ultimately erupt between the state constitution’s pension protection clause and the insolvency of the pension funds. The unions, bureaucrats, and politicians will argue for expanding the tax burden of Illinois residents to fund their pensions, but tax hikes and cutting of services will not solve this problem, only systemic reform will,” said Labell.
Leslie Heffez DMD, MS, FRCD, a retired Professor of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery from the University of Illinois – Chicago, collects an incredible $564,298 annual pension. Retiring at only 55 years old, his total accumulated pension payout will be more than $22.3 million. Dr. Heffez tops our list for both the largest annual pension and estimated lifetime pension payout of our study. Over a normal lifetime, Dr. Heffez will collect almost double the estimated lifetime pension payout of the runner-up on our list, Clarence Bowman, former President of Illinois State University, whose estimated lifetime pension payout is nearly $12 million.”
Tapas Das Gupta, MD, Professor and Head of the Department of Surgical Oncology at University of Illinois – Chicago, no longer tops our list with the top annual pension. However, Dr. Das Gupta is number one in our study for having collected the largest pension to date, totaling nearly $4.8 million. Dr. Das Gupta was only briefly retired years ago, however, as the university rehired him after waiting the required 60 days. Taxpayers now pay for his nearly half a million dollar pension while he collects a salary and remains employed by the government.”

“Without systemic reforms, the problem of government pensions will only get worse over time. This is due to numerous factors, including the pressure from government sector unions to maintain the system for their own benefit, at the expense of the majority of taxpayers; the legal precedents that have been codified into law to uphold this unsustainable system; and the legislators who find it politically expedient to preserve the status quo.”
“What many in the political class don’t seem to understand is that there is a breaking point, and eventually ever-higher tax increases will cause taxpayers to leave their city, county, or state for areas that are more economically friendly – commonly referred to as ‘voting with your feet.’ We know this to be the case by looking at recent history, as former Gov. Quinn’s 67% state income tax hike in 2011 encouraged taxpayers to flee Illinois in droves to neighboring states like Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as Texas and Florida, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. And data released last week shows the Chicago area decreased in population last year for the first time since at least 1990, which is a horrible indicator of what’s to come for Chicago in the future, and Illinois in general, if the financial situation and government pension crisis is not dealt with soon,” concluded Labell.
*Lifetime estimated pension payout includes 3% COLA (simple interest) and assumes life expectancy of 85 (IRS Form 590).

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Taxpayers United Of America: (TUA). is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded June 27, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. In the past forty years, TUA has saved taxpayers more than $200 billion n taxes and has become one of the largest taxpayer organizations in America. Check All posts. s.

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