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Reboot Illinois|New: Top 25 biggest Illinois pensions in SURS

Taxpayers United of America’s (TUA) recent State University Retirement System pension analysis was used by Reboot Illinois.


Taxpayer United of America this week released a new analysis of the State Universities Retirement System — the second-largest of the five Illinois pension funds.
The Chicago-based organization, which advocates for tax relief and pension reform, routinely publishes lists highlighting the state’s biggest pensioners. Its latest analysis focuses on the retirement system for academics and staff at public universities and community colleges in Illinois.
“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, the organization’s director of operations.
As of June 30, 2015, SURS had a funded ratio of 44.2 percent with $22.1 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, according to a report published in March by the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
SURS at a glance
Defined benefit active members: 69,381
Average defined benefit active member salary: $50,103
Self-managed plan active members: 11,928
Total retirees: 51,631
Employee contribution: 8 percent (not eligible for Social Security)
Average age of retiree: 62.6
Average pension: $38,070
Years of service at retirement: 19
Source: Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability

Source: Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability

The average annual pension payout in SURS is the second-lowest behind the State Employees’ Retirement System, but the vast majority the fund’s top pensioners are distinguished medical professionals and former higher education executives.
However, as the Better Government Association reported in 2013, many of the biggest pensioners were University of Illinois at Chicago employees who retired, began collecting their pensions, and then were rehired after waiting the required 60 days in order to work part-time for a smaller salary.
More from TUA:
“Taxpayers were forced to pay 467 percent 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.”
We’ve only listed the Top 25 biggest pensioners in SURS, but all 200 can be found here. The lowest annual pension payout on the list is $190,631.
*Note: Estimated lifetime pension payout assumes a life expectancy of 85 (IRS Form 590) and the 3 percent compounded cost-of-living adjustment.
25. George Honig
Title: Professor, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $296,657
Pension Collected to Date: $3.03 million
Employee Contributions: $401,027
Highest Annual Earnings: $333,915
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $4.95 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 8.1%
Years Retired: 12
Age at Retirement: 67
Years of Employment: 33
24. Craig Bazzani
Title: Vice President for Business and Finance
Employer: U of I
Annual Pension: $298,927
Pension Collected to Date: $3.39 million
Employee Contributions: $298,686
Highest Annual Earnings: $355,929
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $9.41 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 3.2%
Years Retired: 14
Age at Retirement: 55 (retired under a pension formula intended for police officers and firefighters)
Years of Employment: 25
23. Jesse Delia
Title: Professor, Communications
Employer: U of I
Annual Pension: $300,880
Pension Collected to Date: $1.36 million
Employee Contributions: $282,870
Highest Annual Earnings: $376,404
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $6.06 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 4.7%
Years Retired: 7
Age at Retirement: 65
Years of Employment: 39
22. Margaret Lee
Title: President
Employer: Oakton Community College
Annual Pension: $302,098
Pension Collected to Date: $209,056
Employee Contributions: $452,272
Highest Annual Earnings: $424,373
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $4.93 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 9.2%
Years Retired: 1
Age at Retirement: 71
Years of Employment: 33
21. Joel Sugar
Title: Professor, Ophthalmologist
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $308,498
Pension Collected to Date: $3.06 million
Employee Contributions: $446,643
Highest Annual Earnings: $326,310
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $8.33 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 5.4%
Years Retired: 12
Age at Retirement: 59
Years of Employment: 29
20. James Feld
Title: Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $313,444
Pension Collected to Date: $1.16 million
Employee Contributions: $516,149
Highest Annual Earnings: $572,259
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $8.49 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 6.1%
Years Retired: 6
Age at Retirement: 61
Years of Employment: 21
19. Phillip Forman
Title: Dean, College of Medicine; Vice Chancellor for Health Services
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $316,933
Pension Collected to Date: $3.57 million
Employee Contributions: $376,541
Highest Annual Earnings: $355,942
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $4.90 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 7.7%
Years Retired: 14
Age at Retirement: 67
Years of Employment: 29
18. Jacob Wilensky
Title: Professor of Ophthalmology
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $325,119
Pension Collected to Date: $3.17 million
Employee Contributions: $410,791
Highest Annual Earnings: $332,009
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $7.33 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 5.6%
Years Retired: 12
Age at Retirement: 62
Years of Employment: 31
17. Robert Easter
Title: President
Employer: U of I
Annual Pension: $331,086
Pension Collected to Date: $331,365
Employee Contributions: $471,219
Highest Annual Earnings: $842,908
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $7.01 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 6.7%
Years Retired: 5
Age at Retirement: 64
Years of Employment: 39
16. Andrew Wilbur
Title: Radiologist
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $336,440
Pension Collected to Date: $877,157
Employee Contributions: $599,074
Highest Annual Earnings: $384,578
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $10.53 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 5.7%
Years Retired: 5
Age at Retirement: 59
Years of Employment: 32
15. Lou Henson
Title: Head Basketball Coach
Employer: U of I
Annual Pension: $336,950
Pension Collected to Date: $3.37 million
Employee Contributions: $300,266
Highest Annual Earnings: $401,287
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $3.70 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 8.1%
Years Retired: 20
Age at Retirement: 64
Years of Employment: 32
14. Ruth Steeler
Title: Professor, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $337,810
Pension Collected to Date: $191,322
Employee Contributions: $283,282
Highest Annual Earnings: $146,489
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $2.38 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 11.9%
Years Retired: 1
Age at Retirement: 78
Years of Employment: 9
13. James Ausman
Title: Head of Neurosurgery
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $348,789
Pension Collected to Date: $2.51 million
Employee Contributions: $418,471
Highest Annual Earnings: $771,604
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $5.19 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 8.1%
Years Retired: 8
Age at Retirement: 70
Years of Employment: 17
12. Vernon Crawley
Title: President
Employer: Moraine Valley Community College
Annual Pension: $361,260
Pension Collected to Date: $814,450
Employee Contributions: $581,987
Highest Annual Earnings: $674,211
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $3.15 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 18.5%
Years Retired: 4
Age at Retirement: 75
Years of Employment: 28
11. Clarence Bowman
Title: President
Employer: ISU
Annual Pension: $374,976
Pension Collected to Date: $520,562
Employee Contributions: $410,284
Highest Annual Earnings: $511,080
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $11.97 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 3.4%
Years Retired: 3
Age at Retirement: 60
Years of Employment: 35
10. Ronald Albrecht
Title: Associate Professor, Anesthesiologist
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $379,805
Pension Collected to Date: $2.96 million
Employee Contributions: $462,077
Highest Annual Earnings: $637,633
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $5.41 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 8.5%
Years Retired: 9
Age at Retirement: 70
Years of Employment: 25
9. Herand Abcarian
Title: Head of Department of Surgery
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $381,245
Pension Collected to Date: $2.50 million
Employee Contributions: $628,987
Highest Annual Earnings: $579,910
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $6.87 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 9.2%
Years Retired: 8
Age at Retirement: 67
Years of Employment: 20
8. James Stukel
Title: President
Employer: U of I
Annual Pension: $390,583
Pension Collected to Date: $2.33 million
Employee Contributions: $337,524
Highest Annual Earnings: $417,670
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $5.32 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 6.3%
Years Retired: 11
Age at Retirement: 67
Years of Employment: 35
7. Mahmood Mafee
Title: Clinical Professor of Radiology
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $416,597
Pension Collected to Date: $3.48 million
Employee Contributions: $562,570
Highest Annual Earnings: $494,056
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $8.81 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 6.4%
Years Retired: 10
Age at Retirement: 64
Years of Employment: 32
6. Joseph Flaherty
Title: Dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $420,670
Pension Collected to Date: $1.05 million
Employee Contributions: $635,127
Highest Annual Earnings: $515,473
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $9.53 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 6.7%
Years Retired: 5
Age at Retirement: 64
Years of Employment: 35
5. Peter Maggs
Title: Law Professor
Employer: U of I
Annual Pension: $422,150
Pension Collected to Date: $543,220
Employee Contributions: $509,123
Highest Annual Earnings: $305,999
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $3.27 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 15.6%
Years Retired: 2
Age at Retirement: 77
Years of Employment: 21
4. Ronald Guenther
Title: Director of Athletics
Employer: University of Illinois – Foundation
Annual Pension: $459,315
Pension Collected to Date: $988,340
Employee Contributions: $614,647
Highest Annual Earnings: $744,153
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $9.53 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 6.4%
Years Retired: 5
Age at Retirement: 65
Years of Employment: 29
3. Edward Abraham
Title: Orthopedic Surgeon
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $466,759
Pension Collected to Date: $3.69 million
Employee Contributions: $535,165
Highest Annual Earnings: $459,998
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $9.04 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 5.9%
Years Retired: 9
Age at Retirement: 66
Years of Employment: 35
2. Tapas Das Gupta
Title: Professor, Head of Department of Surgical Oncology
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $480,381
Pension Collected to Date: $4.77 million
Employee Contributions: $475,331
Highest Annual Earnings: $481,856
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $5.25 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 9.1%
Years Retired: 12
Age at Retirement: 72
Years of Employment: 35
1. Leslie Heffez
Title: Professor and Head, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Employer: UIC
Annual Pension: $564,298
Pension Collected to Date: $578,460
Employee Contributions: $768,611
Highest Annual Earnings: $783,862
Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout: $22.33 million
Percent Contributed to Estimated Lifetime Payout: 3.4%
Years Retired: 4
Age at Retirement: 55
Years of Employment: 29

Chicago Now|Illinois turns retired state college employees into millionaires. How does your pension compare?

Taxpayers United of America’s (TUA) recent State University Retirement pension data analysis was mentioned by Chicago Now.


Total up what you expect to receive from your private pension and social security and see if it matches the astonishing rich pensions that the state of Illinois (i.e. taxpayers) gives to its public university employees.
There’s a guy who, believe it, is expected to receive a $22.3 million lifetime state sponsored pension. He leads the pack. He is Leslie Heffez,, a Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery from the University of Illinois at Chicago, who retired at 55 and who collects a $564,298 annual pension. Okay, so maybe he deserves it because he’s some kind of unique expert. So, what do the “ordinary” state university employees get?
As Taxpayer United of America has reported, dollar sign
The average 2016 annual SURS [State Universities Retirement System] pension is $35,751.
The average amount that employees paid into their own pension fund is $48,764, or 5 percent 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.
If you can take it, here is some more from Taxpayers United of America:
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.
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.
Sure, blame the politicians for robbing the state pension funds to pay for everyday state expenses (including state university subsidies), but there’s this: Since “2011, SURS has received the full annual statutory contribution from the state of Illinois.”
Gee, so how is your pension and social security looking now?

Illinois Review|Skillicorn: Time to End State Legislative Pensions Now

Tax Accountability endorsed GOP nominee for the 66th Illinois House seat, Skillicorn, wrote this article calling for the abolition of state legislative pensions.


While the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund investigates the McHenry County Board to determine if part-time county board members work a minimum of 1,000 hours to qualify for an IMRF pension, I want to remind readers that the Illinois General Assembly is also a part-time legislature. Saving taxpayers’ money is a priority for me, so while we discuss the pensions of 24 board members, I propose eliminating pensions for all 177 part-time state legislators for even bigger savings.
It’s parasitic and downright greedy for a politician to accept a pension at taxpayer expense. It’s no secret that politicians like House Speaker Mike Madigan voted for both pension sweeteners and pension holidays. It’s also no secret that Illinois pensions are underfunded. Unfortunately, the Illinois political class is afraid or unwilling to address the issue.
Effective immediately, all legislative pensions should be terminated; all new legislators should be enrolled in a self-funded retirement savings plan and all incumbent members should be transitioned out of their Tier 1 & 2 pensions. Since the general assembly has authority over it’s own compensation for future terms, there are no legal hurdles to eliminating these lucrative and self-serving legislative pensions.
How can lawmakers be taken seriously on pension reform, if they themselves are signed up to receive one? As a candidate for Illinois State Representative, I pledge to refuse a pension once elected. What’s more, I will introduce these reforms without delay.
Allen Skillicorn is the Republican nominee for the 66th Illinois House District race.

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