13th Annual Illinois Pension Report

Pension Release

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Report Overview

Retired Government Employees Receiving $100,000+ Annually

Chicago — Taxpayer Education Foundation (TEF) today released the results of its 13th annual Illinois state pensions report. This new report analyzes government-retiree pensions of Illinois’ 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 demonstrates that the Pritzker administration has allowed the Illinois pension crisis to worsen.

The unfunded government pension liabilities Springfield politicians placed on the shoulders of Illinois taxpayers have grown. The amount liabilities grew was over $2.1 billion, bringing the new total to $143,593,104,031 for 2019. Keep in mind that these are the numbers the state of Illinois has issued. Moody’s estimates the Illinois pension liabilities to be roughly $100 billion higher.

One look at these gargantuan pensions illustrates why the situation is deteriorating. Leslie Heffez retired from the university of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) at the age of 55. His current annual pension is a mind-boggling $616,624. This former government employee is the first person in the six major Illinois pension funds to rake in over $600,000 a year. Heffez is on track to receive $21,093,181 by the time he is 85, thanks to a 3 percent compounded cost of living adjustment (COLA) Illinois Gov. Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker declines to do anything about.

The compounded cola is the most dangerous part of the Illinois pension scam. The three percent cola can double a single government pension in 24 years. This happens often because the average Illinois government employee retires at 61. The IRS estimates that for a person 65 years of age, his estimated life expectancy is 85. We can expect many government pensions to double by that age.

A central figure responsible for the pension crisis is former Illinois governor James R. Thompson (R), one of the worst tax-raisers in Illinois history. Thompson also retired at age 55 and currently receives an annual pension of $161,152. Thompson was one of the key members of the state government who started the pension crisis. If not for his 3 percent compounded cost of living increase for retired Illinois government employees, the crisis would not be as bad as it is.

An example of the crisis worsening is how the number of millionaire government retirees is growing. There are now 2,572 more government retirees receiving over $100,000 compared to last year. This brings the new total to 22,053 retired government employees receiving over $100,000 a year.

Additionally, there are now 111,809 Illinois government pensioners collecting more than $50,000 in taxpayer funded payments yearly. This is an increase of 4,717 from last year, that total being 107,092. The average annual social security pension for taxpayers in 2019 is $17,532.

The taxes to support these outrageous Illinois government pensions are driving taxpayers out of Illinois. Almost all of the last $5 billion-dollar income tax increase was used to prop up the state pension funds. This is why Illinois governor Pritzker wants to pass the graduated income tax increase amendment, a huge income tax increase for Illinois taxpayers. Instead of seeking pension reform, Pritzker wants another massive income tax hike.

There is no reason to believe this amendment will only affect the “rich.” Pritzker passed a multibillion-dollar regressive tax increase including the recent 19 cent Illinois gasoline tax hike. It is estimated that Pritzker’s gasoline tax will extract from Illinois taxpayers $1.2 billion dollars more a year. These taxes affect Illinois’ most struggling residents disproportionately. There is every reason to believe that future tax hikes planned by Springfield politicians will affect the state’s middle class, and will be used to further prop up the state’s lavish, gold-plated pensions for retired government employees. 

Rather than placing more taxes on the backs of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, and plotting to increase taxes on the state’s middle class, Pritzker should explore significant reforms for the state’s bankrupt pension plans for retired government employees.

Click for top SERS 2019 Pension Grid

Click for top GARS 2019 Pension Grid

Click for top IMRF 2019 Pension Grid

Click for top JRS 2019 Pension Grid

Click for top SURS 2019 Pension Grid

Click for top TRS 2019 Pension Grid

Champaign Government Pensions Take Huge Bite out of Taxpayers

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Champaign, IL – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released its updated study of Champaign County, IL government employee pensions, publishing the top 200 pensions Champaign County Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), the top 200 pensions of the Teachers’ Retirement Fund (TRS), and the top 200 pensions of State University Retirement System (SURS). Taxpayers United of America issued the following statement based on the TEF pension study.

Click to View Top 200 Champaign TRS Pensions

Click to View Top 200 Champaign SURS Pensions

Click to View Top 200 Champaign IMRF Pensions

“Champaign area government pensions take a 50% bite out of property taxes just to fund the IMRF, police, and fire retiree funds,” said Jim Tobin, TUA president.

“IMRF pensions are funded by property taxes but government bureaucrats are more concerned about fulfilling promises made to state government union bosses, in order to maintain and enhance government pensions, than they are about their constituents.”

“Illinois Governor Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker has plans to increase state income taxes. Pritzker has advanced his proposal for an income tax increase amendment. The measure, which will be put to voters on the 2020 November ballot, would change the current flat-rate state income tax to a graduated state income tax that would decimate the middle class.”

“The average retirement benefit of a former government employee in Illinois is a hefty $56,148 – for an average period of 20 years on the government payroll. The average Champaign taxpayer’s Social Security pension is about $17,532 per year, and is funded completely with private money from taxpayers and their employers. But the IMRF pensioners also usually collect Social Security on top of their overly generous Illinois pensions.”

“You may recognize some of these names of the government pensioners with multi-million-dollar payouts:

SURS pensioner Peter Maggs struggles to get by on an annual pension of $445,321. With a 3% annual compounded cost of living adjustment, that will accumulate to

$2,688,656 when he reaches the age of 85 in just a few years.

Michael W. Caine retired from Champaign CUSD 4 and currently collects $186,335 annually. Over a normal lifetime, he will accumulate $5,317,694 in pension payments.

William L. Volk retired from Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit and has a current annual pension of $243,922. Mr. Volk likely gets about $28,000 more per year from Social Security.

There are now 2,572 more government retirees receiving over $100,000 compared to last year. This brings the new total to 22,053 retired government employees receiving over $100,000 a year.

Additionally, there are now 111,809 Illinois government pensioners collecting more than $50,000 in taxpayer funded payments yearly. This is an increase of 4,717 from last year, that total being 107,092.

“Illinois courts have made it clear that they will protect the government pensions regardless of how devastating they are to the state, the taxpayers, and the communities of Illinois. Communities throughout the state are cutting services needed today so that they can pay for services of years past.”

“It is just unreasonable to allow people to retire in their 50’s and early 60’s, pay a 3% automatic cost of living adjustment, and expect taxpayers to foot the bill. Now that billionaire Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker has been elected, government pension reform won’t occur anytime soon. Pritzker will continue to try to tax his way out of this mess,” concluded Tobin.

Illinois Government Pension Rip-off


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Chicago – Taxpayer Education Foundation (TEF) today released its annual report of the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS). Each year TEF obtains updated information on SERS retiree pension payments through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests directly from the SERS administrators. That data combined with information from the SERS annual report and the Illinois statutes governing the pension system provide the information necessary to calculate estimated lifetime pension payouts for current pensioners. Expected lifetimes are based on IRS form 590 actuarial tables. All statements and analyses are based on these data.
“SERS is another example of the state’s inability to live up to the pension promises made to the current 72,005 SERS payees in the third largest statewide fund,” said Jim Tobin, TEF president.”
“Like all of the government-employee pension funds in the state, SERS is bound by law to keep unrealistic promises made to government employees, but it is taxpayers who are forced to fund them. For every $1.00 that SERS members deposited into their own pension funds last year, taxpayers were forced to deposit $7.15.”
By contrast, private sector employees are required by law to deposit a combined 15% of their earnings and employer profits into Social Security for an average annual Social Security pension of about $17,000 if they work at least 32 years and retire at 66 while the SERS counterparts average $34,381 annually for only 24 years of eligible employment and the average age of retirement is 59. SERS pensioners are guaranteed an annual 3% compounded cost of living adjustment (COLA) regardless of market conditions. Social Security COLA is always limited to the consumer price index. The 2018 SS COLA is 2%.
“Illinois is functionally bankrupt. Yes, ‘bankrupt’ is the generally accepted term for the financial state of not having the capacity to meet one’s financial obligations. Across the state, services are being cut because Illinois statute requires pensions to be paid before other obligations and we can’t afford both. Illinois is bankrupt and bloated government pensions are the cause.”
“Here are just the top 5 pensions from SERS.

Name Current Annual Pension Age at Retirement *Estimated Lifetime Pension Payout Employee Contribution % of Lifetime Payout
PARWATIKAR, SADASHIV D $220,267 64 $3,799,680 3.2%
MODIR, KAMAL $199,087 60 $4,091,811 2.5%
VALLABHANENI, NAGESWARARAO $169,830 61 $3,326,371 4.8%
BAIG, MIRZA S $166,605 56 $4,812,251 2.6%
KADKHODAIAN, HOOSHMAND $162,843 61 $3,306,561 5.4%

Click here to see the top 200 SERS pensions
“It is mathematically impossible for Illinois to tax its way out of the pension promises corrupt politicians traded for votes, but that won’t stop the greedy Springfield thieves from trying. Moves are already under way to get a graduated income tax on the ballot, and basic services will be held hostage to ensure they get the votes needed to pass it.”
“Illinois has the highest out-migration in the country right now and we are on pace to lose another congressional district when the 2020 census is concluded. We are bleeding productive taxpayers, which only worsens our problems because there are fewer of us to carry the burden of higher taxes and higher interest on borrowing.”