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Sangamon Sun|Report: State pension reform needed to avoid 'catastrophic' fate

Taxpayers United of America’s Executive Director, Jared Labell, was quoted by Sangamon Sun about TUA’s 10th Annual Illinois State Pension Report.


Taxpayers United of America (TUA) recently released its 10th Annual Illinois State Pensions Report examining the state’s General Assembly Retirement System (GARS), Judges’ Retirement System (JRS), Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), State Universities Retirement System (SURS), State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).
The report takes an in-depth look at the problems with the state’s pension programs, dating back to 1989, which stem from irresponsible policies and political mistakes, and gave rise to today’s fiscal catastrophe.
“In 1989, Gov. James Thompson (R) agreed to enhance pension benefits by establishing an annual 3 percent compounded cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase for retirees beginning January 1, 1990,” the report said. “This single enhancement of government retirees’ benefits is a central contributor to the skyrocketing unfunded liabilities Illinois has accumulated in the nearly three decades since that legislation was enacted.”
Included in the report is a case study of the Top 40 Pensioners between 2006 and 2016 using projected lifetime pension payouts as a basis.
“Surveying the growth of these pensions over the past decade provides a snapshot of the financial burdens Illinois taxpayers face, illustrating the extent of the unfunded liabilities accrued and the cost of not implementing reform,” the report said.
Also revealed in the report is that 15,661 state pensioners each collect more than $100,000 annually, and 92,638 state pensioners each collect more than $50,000, based on data collected through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
TUA’s updated data for the Top 400 Illinois Pensioners of 2016 indicate that the total pension payout so far this year alone is $91,573,671, and the total pension collected to date is $657,971,664. The average pension is $228,934, with the average employee pension contribution being $266,671. The average estimated lifetime pension payout is $5,697,754.
“Although the current options to address the state’s government pension crisis are limited for policymakers, our research concludes that immediate reforms are necessary to avoid an even more catastrophic financial landscape in the near future,” the report said. “Solutions must focus on long-term solvency in the interest of both government retirees and taxpayers.”
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has championed pension reform in Illinois, both on the campaign trail and since taking office last year. But with Democrats controlling both chambers of the General Assembly, Rauner has faced significant push-back.
“Illinois’ government-employee pensions are unsustainable,” Jared Labell, TUA’s executive director, said in a press release. “The Illinois Constitution’s pension-protection clause – Article XIII, Section 5 – unfairly chains generations of taxpayers to an uncontrolled financial burden created by the disastrous decisions of politicians in Springfield.”

Madison County Record|The very expensive and cynical lesson David Werner taught us

Data from Taxpayers United of America’s recent 10th Annual Illinois State Pension Report was used by Madison County Record in an article about David Werner’s outstanding pension paid for by tax dollars.


More than 100,000 Illinoisans have graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville during its nearly 60 years of operation.
As chancellor from 1998 to 2004, David Werner deserves some of the credit for the quality of education SIUE students received during that six-year period, but he deserves even more credit (or discredit) for the lesson he’s taught all of us taxpayers since his retirement.
The lesson, unfortunately, already has cost a lot more than a four-year degree from the E, and we won’t know the final tab until Werner enjoys an emeritus position at that Ivory Tower in the sky.
It’s part of a course that could be called “How to Game the System as a State Employee and Live like a Millionaire in Retirement.”
We don’t have to go to class for instruction or attend online because Werner doesn’t lecture. After all, he’s retired, right?
No, Werner has taught by example. He figured out how to game the system and all we have to do is study his methods, learn the obvious lessons, apply them ourselves if we were the sort of persons who did such things, and then enjoy an early retirement and a life of leisure at the expense of taxpayers – or go to an early grave worrying about how high state taxes will have to be raised to pay for all of the prodigies following in Werner’s silk-slippered footsteps.
More than 92,000 Illinois state pensioners collect more than $50,000 each annually, according to a recent report from Taxpayers United of America. More than 15,000 collect more than $100,000 each every year.
Werner is one of the top 400 collectors (#76). He retired at the age of 62 and gets $252,704 in benefits yearly, which is more than the total he put into the plan. He’s already collected two and a half million dollars and could eventually break five million.
Did we really need to learn such an expensive lesson? Can we get a refund?

Quad City Online|Taxpayers United founder, in Geneseo, attacks Illinois pensions

Taxpayers United of America’s founder and President, Jim Tobin, was quoted by Quad City Online about his speech in Henry County about the pension funding crisis.


GENESEO — The founder of the 40-year-old non-profit Taxpayers United of America on Tuesday railed against public-employee pensions, terming them an unfair burden for private citizens who earn much less in retirement.
Jim Tobin, in his first Henry County appearance, said, “It’s ridiculous to pay people millions of dollars to do absolutely nothing for decades,” he said.
He said Henry County’s median household income is $52,000 and taxpayers are on the hook for every shortfall in the pension system, while more than 240 public retirees here accrue an estimated seven-figure total in retirement over their lifetime. He questioned how Henry County’s 50,000 residents can pay the public pensions, noting the highest private-industry Social Security annual pay is $30,000.

“We have to work full-time into our 70s so these people can kick back and absolutely do nothing for the money they are receiving,” he said. “If we don’t pay our taxes, a man with a gun will come visit us. It’s basically legal plunder for the benefit of the government class.”
He criticized the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) in particular, singling out two retired Geneseo school administrators. He said former principal Jack Schlindwein has the highest estimated lifetime payment of any public employee in Henry County at over $5.3 million after retiring at 54. He said former superintendent Harold Ford may expect an estimated $4.4 million in lifetime pension. He even noted that the two administrators’ total personal contribution to their pension of $168,380 and $138,000 respectively is likely misleading because often school districts make up the employees’ contribution.
Statewide, Mr. Tobin said 15,661 public retirees receive more than $100,000 a year and 92,386 are taking in more than $50,000 per year.
Mr. Ford said he’d guarantee he is not the highest paid former school official in the Quad-Cities area.
“I do get a very good — a very, very good amount of money for my retirement,” he said. “Even though it’s a wonderful amount, I’m sure I don’t make more than a number of people in the Quad-Cities did.”
The Teachers Retirement System alone pays annual benefits of nearly $6 billion and sought $4 billion for fiscal year 2017 to make up for underfunding. With total assets of $45 billion and actuarial liability of $108 billion, it’s only 42 percent funded, but executive director Richard Ingram told the Senate this spring that investment earnings cover the majority of the costs of benefits.
Mr. Tobin said it’s not true that earnings pay for most public pension benefits.
“That’s a lie. A blatant lie. If that were the case, why do they need $7 billion a year?” he asked. “Their pensions are causing the problems we’re having of people not getting the services, current services. We can’t hire more police because it would incur more liability.”
According to Mr. Tobin, “at least 80 percent” of pension funding comes from taxpayers through income taxes or sales taxes and investment income is down.
“Investments aren’t even earning the 7-1/2 percent they claim they are,” he added.
He is advocating 401K plans in place of defined benefit plans for new hires and allowing taxing districts to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy and reorganization, releasing them from old pension obligations. He recommends citizens demand reforms from local 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,” he said.

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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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