Legalized Corruption: Illinois’ Top 200 Government Pensions

View as PDF CHICAGO—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of their updated study of the top 200 pensioners of Illinois state pension funds, including SURS, TRS, IMRF, and GARS.
“All 200 of these government pensioners are collecting more than $200,000 dollars a year in taxpayer funded pensions,” stated Jim Tobin, TUA president. “These pension payments accumulate to multi-million dollar payouts over a natural lifetime but the pensioners’ average personal investment is only about 5.5% of the lifetime payouts.”
“This is not a retirement system or a safety net for ‘the poor public servants’ who have given their lives to public service. This is theft. This is immoral and unethical theft of taxpayers’ hard-earned money to be given to the political elite.”
“If government employees increased their own contributions to their own gold-plated pension by 10 percentage points, it would save taxpayers about $150 billion over the next 35 years, or about $4.3 billion a year.”
“Illinois, and Chicago in particular, are in dire financial shape. The future of every Illinois taxpayer is on the line, and yet here we are, years later, still tiptoeing around the problem – the government employee pension cabal.”
“Every day that passes without reforming the pension system, Illinois spirals more quickly toward financial ruin. The credit ratings continue to be downgraded, property taxes go higher, new sales taxes are imposed, home foreclosures rise, and masses of productive taxpayers and businesses leave the state. It is criminal that our legislature allows this to continue.”
“There are now 12,154 Illinois government pensions over $100,000 and 85,893 over $50,000! Those are staggering numbers considering the taxpayers who fund these pensions get an average Social Security pension of about $15,000 a year.”
“As always, Tapas Das Gupta tops our list at $466,409 in current annual pension payments. Last year his annual payments were $452,843. He got a raise of $13,566 – nearly the same as the average Social Security pension of about $15,000! His estimated lifetime payout is a stunning $5.2 million. His personal investment is only about 9.1%.”
“The highest estimated lifetime payout goes to John R. Harper who just retired last year at the ripe old age of 54. His annual government pension is $239,019 and will accumulate to an estimated lifetime payout of $11,513,008. His personal investment is only about 2.9% of that staggering payout.”
View a PDF of the State of Illinois Top 200 Government Pensions as of February 1, 2015.
“There is no moral defense for these pensions or those who continue to prop up this system. This government pension system holds taxpayers hostage for the benefit of a constitutionally protected political class. The union thugs and the political bureaucrats who hide behind the legality of this corruption know exactly what they are doing.”
“Unfortunately, the outcome of the Illinois Supreme Court decision on the impotent pension reforms of SB1 are moot. SB1 doesn’t nearly go far enough to fix the problem and provides additional guarantees to steal enough money from taxpayers to cover the lavish pensions.”
“Adequate pension reform will eliminate unfunded pension liabilities forever by ending the defined benefit system and replacing it with a 401(k)-style retirement savings account going forward. But if we are to keep the defined benefit system, then all current employee contributions must be increased by 10 percent of their pay, there must be an increase in employee and retiree contributions to their healthcare premiums to 50%, and there must also be an increase in the retirement age to 67. Anything less will not solve the problem.”
*Lifetime estimated pension payout includes 3% compounded COLA and assumes life expectancy of 85 (IRS Form 590).

9 Comments
  1. A favorite tactic for those who favor pension reform(otherwise known as pension theft) is to cite extreme examples but then argue for pension reform in its intirety. How intelectually dishonest would I be to cite the 200 smallest pensions in Illinois, and then argue that pensions on the whole need to be enhanced. We can all agree that it is wrong for “the teacher for a day” or as here in this artical “the top 200 pensions” can represent an outrage. Fix those extremes.
    But what is even more outrageous is to cite these extremes an then argue for systematic reforms that hit the little guy…the teacher…the firefighter who is on $35000 a year pension.
    Why dont you in fairness cite the 200 smallest pensions or better yet…cite the average pension….might make your arguement for reform a little less persuasive but allot more accurate!

  2. Paul, I am gonna guess you are government employee. Yes please tell us about the 200 smallest pensions in Chicago.

    • Chicongo? Where is that? I am suprised the moderator for this website would allow a potentially race offensive name like that to be used.
      As far as my personel employment goes, thats not relevant or pertenant. Lets keep our talk to the topic and not get personel please. Addressing the merits of my response and not me directly will get ya farther.

    • I often advocate for pension reform … in it’s entirety, but never in it’s intirety.
      And extremes needn’t be sited … the pensions of Public Sector workers … at ALL (yes ALL) wage levels …… are ROUTINELY 3x-4x greater in value at retirement than those granted their Private Sector counterparts when retiring at the SAME age, with the SAME pay, and the SAME years of Service.
      And for safety workers (with the richest pensions) that 3x-4x greater rises to 4x-6x greater.
      It’s WAY PAST time to end this decades-long financial “mugging” of Private Sector Taxpayers.

    • I don’t know if you ever had a job, but if you did, and your employer told you that if you took that job, he would pay you so much, and you would have health insurance after you retired for as long as you lived and that after you retired you would have a 3% raise a year to keep up with inflation, and if you worked 20 years, you would get 75% of your pay and if you worked 30 years, you would get 80% of your pay at that time, (was changed later to 27 1/2 years I think) Remember, this was about 40 years ago when we made $460 per month. If you worked more than 35 years, would you not expect your employer to keep his word. You did give up 35 years of your life in a dangerous job. What do you think?

  3. Sorry, but this article is sensationalist drivel, nothing more. Take, for example, your statement that “These pension payments accumulate to multi-million dollar payouts over a natural lifetime but the pensioners’ average personal investment is only about 5.5% of the lifetime payouts.”
    Let me explain to you, as a Finance professor who actually understands these things, the reasons for this. They are called time value of money and the equity premium. There is nothing extraordinary about state workers being able to do this at all. Take someone who worked for Walmart, began in 1978 at age 25, retired at age 60 in 2013, and is projected to live to age 85. Assume further that this person earned the average wage each year as reported by Social Security and fully participated in Walmart’s 401k plan – i.e. contributed 6% of salary each year and received a 6% company match (this is what Walmart does – look it up), and allocated 70% of the contributions to an S&P 500 index fund and the remaining 30% to a high grade corporate bond fund (very similar to the asset allocation of the Illinois pension systems). Over his/her 35 year career, this person would have contributed a total of $58,623 and accumulated a balance of $782,508 by the end of 2013 with investment gains. Now assume the first year withdrawal, as recommended by financial planners, is 4% and he/she increases the amount withdrawn 2% each subsequent year to match projected inflation. By age 85, the assumed life expectancy, the cumulative sum of the withdrawals is $1,002,559. So the ratio of contributions to withdrawals is 5,847% – not very different from the 5.5% you cite for the state employee.
    It is true that our Walmart employee is not guaranteed to be able to make these withdrawals for the full 25 years – if he/she encounters a nasty bear market, he might run out of funds prematurely. But given the conservative initial withdrawal rate, there is at least an equal chance that he/she will die prior to exhausting all the money, actually leaving money to heirs (state employees cannot do that). Also, this Walmart employee will get something that most state employees will not: Social Security. You see, Walmart actually contributes to this, while for teachers, university employees, legislators and judges, the State of Illinois does not.
    So, bottom line, please spare us the sensationalism and explain how if Illinois had actually made the necessary contributions over the years to its pension systems, why these systems would be unaffordable and why the state would be in the trouble that it finds itself in today.

  4. The REAL thieves are the PLACEMENT AGENTS. In fact, that’s probably who paid to have this article published.
    All of these private sector criminals that are gaming the system with mafia tactics.
    The reason that some states and companies do not have money for the pensions is obvious to anyone: mismanagement by overpaid placement agents (lobbyists) and the corrupt financial types.
    Read: http://www.ibtimes.com/pension-funds-lose-money-salesmen-state-retirees-pay-study-shows-1925168

  5. Who is Taxpayers United of America anyway? Who funds you? How are you paid Jared? Those are the real questions “the sheeple” should be asking.
    The pitchforks are coming. Be forewarned. All you parasitical elites who believe private industry can continue to deceive the working classes will see it is not sustainable.
    Just read a history book of any country. Your days are numbered. Dignity. Honesty. Truth. They all prevail in the end. So Jared, how do you have the time to write all this and travel so much. Would your job have existed 150 years ago? What practical skills do you have that help contribute to the gross domestic product of the US.? Do you produce any useful product?

BLOG POSTS

DISCLAIMER

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.

ADDRESS

Chicago, IL 60606 205 W. Randolph Street, Suite 1305
Phone: (312) 427-5128
Fax: (312) 427-5139
Website: https://taxpayersunitedofamerica.org
Email: info@taxpayersunited.org

Donate