The Pantagraph | President of tax reform group calls for major changes to Illinois pensions

Findings from TUA’s pension project on Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, are featured in this story from The Pantagraph.

pantagraphBLOOMINGTON — Jim Tobin, president of Taxpayers United of America, is traveling throughout Illinois, including a stop Tuesday in Bloomington, pitching his ideas for pension reform.

“Illinois is in horrible financial shape and yet taxpayers are still expected to pour their hard-earned money into a failed government pension system,” said Tobin. “The state’s in such bad shape. It can’t sell bonds; it can’t borrow money.”

Taxpayers United of America, which its website says was founded in 1976 as National Taxpayers United of Illinois, suggests, “Without sweeping and immediate reform, Illinois’ pension system will collapse.”

Tobin said reform must include: raising the retirement age to 67; increasing employee contributions by 10 percent; increasing health care contributions to 50 percent; eliminating all cost-of-living adjustments; and replacing the defined benefit system with a defined contribution system for all new hires.

While he used to lobby for reform, Tobin said he’s now “letting taxpayers know” through the media and by direct mail to TUA members and other known “activists.”

Tobin said the results of his organization’s new pension study of government employees in Bloomington, Normal, McLean County, schools and Illinois State University will be available on its website www.taxpayersunited.org.

The Pantagraph also has detailed pension information from a December 2011 series which can be found by clicking here.

Linda Horrell, communications director for the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund that covers non-contract government employees in nearly 3,000 downstate local governments, said IMRF is not a state-funded pension system so it is not included in the state pension reform discussions.

IMRF is funded by employee and mandated employer contributions as well as investment income.  Horrell said IMRF does not include compounded cost-of-living adjustments and doesn’t offer retirees health insurance.  Recently adopted guidelines also change benefits for employees hired after Jan. 1, 2011, including raising the full pension age to 67 — up from 60.

Charlie McBarron, director of communications for the Illinois Education Association, said the IEA took part in a summit Monday to discuss the state’s pension problems.  He said the organization is bringing numerous ideas to the table to solve the pension problems in a “fair and constitutional” way.

Illinois has a $96 billion pension shortfall.

Leave a Reply