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Gov. Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker and his allies in the Democrat-controlled Illinois General Assembly are telling voters that their constitutional amendment to the Illinois Constitution, on the November 3 statewide ballot, would create a “fair” graduated state income tax. They make the astonishing claim that taxes would be raised only on those who can afford it, and that middle- and lower-class families would not be adversely affected. Does anyone really believe that?

Almost all of the recent $5 billion increase in the state income tax was pumped into the state pension plans for retired government employees. Even this huge amount didn’t move the needle. These bighearted pension plans are still floundering and slowly dying. Now, J. B. and his fellow Democrats in the general assembly are back for more, and in a really big way.

If passed, the Pritzker amendment would result in another shameless transfer of wealth – and a huge one – from workers in the private sector struggling to pay their bills to retired government employees already enjoying lavish, gold-plated pensions.

The 2020 Illinois Government Pension report published by the Taxpayer Education Foundation examines the six government pension plans in the state. A look at just one of them, the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) is enlightening, and shows why these pension plans are functionally bankrupt and require frequent infusions of taxpayer dollars.

The average retirement age of government teachers in SURS is 61.1 and they collect pensions after only 18.4 years of employment. The average annual pension is $38,826, whereas the average annual Social Security benefit of workers in the private sector who retire in their 60s is $18,036.

The number of SURS pensions exceeding $50,000 is 19,753. The number of pensions exceeding $100,000 is 5,435.

299 retired government teachers receive annual pensions exceeding $200,000. 49 retired teachers receive annual pensions over $300,000.

The number of SURS pensions that will exceed $1,000,000 in estimated lifetime payouts is 25,499. The average estimated lifetime payout per pension is $982,463.

Taxpayers, through their state taxes, have so far paid $1,713,300,000 into SURS, and they will be paying a lot more into this and the other state pension plans if Pritzker’s income theft amendment passes on November 3.

Peoria’s Perplexing Pension Problem: Taxpayers Can’t Afford What Pols Promised

Jim Tobin Peoria
Jim Tobin Peoria

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Peoria, IL – Taxpayers in Peoria City and County are crushed by taxes new and old. The county’s new public safety pension tax only increases the tax burden without solving the mounting pension cost to taxpayers.

“Peoria government bureaucrats do nothing to solve the pension problems facing its taxpayers,” said Jim Tobin, president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA). “Like all the other taxing bodies in Illinois, all 7,000 of them, Peoria continues to treat its taxpayers like an ATM. Rather than do away with some government jobs, eliminate redundancies, cut expenses, and lobby the state legislature to put a pension reform amendment on the ballot, they just demand taxpayers fork over more cash.”

“While the local pensions of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) are paid by property taxes, the remaining five state pension funds are paid primarily with the Illinois state income-tax.”

“In order to fund pensions of the 148,654 pensioners who will collect more than a million dollars in pension payments, Democrat Gov. Jay Robert ‘J. B.’ Pritzker is seeking to adopt a constitutional amendment that will allow a graduated income tax that ushers in massive state income-tax increases. And that 148,654 doesn’t even include pensions from the hundreds of police and fire funds or the Chicago pension funds.”

“Pritzker’s income theft amendment will be on the November 3, 2020 ballot. If passed, this taxpayer theft will hit small businesses and the middle-class the hardest. Between the mass exodus of Illinois residents to more tax friendly states and the huge loss of jobs and income from the Covid-19 pandemic, Illinois’ middle-class will virtually disappear.”

“As many of us have been struggling without a paycheck, or watching businesses disintegrate and in some cases, destroyed by rioters and looters, here’s what a few of the political elite in Peoria County collected without a concern of what is to come:

Kevin W. Lyons retired from Peoria County government at the age of 55. His current annual pension is $151,401, an increase of about $3,600 over last year. With his 3% COLA, he will receive about $4,593,916 over a normal lifetime. His personal investment in that stunning payout is only about 4.4%. He is also eligible for a social security pension.

Roger M. Bergia, Peoria Heights CUSD 325 retiree, has a current annual pension of $249,372. His raise this year was about $7,200 and he will collect about $2,484,295 in estimated lifetime pension payments.

Thomas Thomas retired from Illinois Central College and currently collects $231,819 a year from the State University Retirement System (SURS). That’s an increase of about $6,700 over last year. His estimated lifetime payout is $4,839,817. He had to invest only $148,054 of his own money for that payout.”

“Illinois government employees only work 20.1 years on average in order to collect these unrealistic pensions. And for every dollar they deposit in their own pension fund, taxpayers are forced to fork over $4.74. Add to that a 3% COLA, compounded for all but IMRF, and it doesn’t take a genius to understand why Illinois’ government pensions are insolvent.”

“Rather than put an income theft amendment on the ballot, Pritzker should have pushed for a pension reform amendment because these outrageous pensions are protected by the state constitution,” said Tobin.

Top 200 Peoria Pensions IMRF

Top 200 Peoria Pensions TRS

Top 200 Peoria Pensions SURS

James R. Thompson: The Ghost Haunting Illinois

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On August 14, 2020 James R. Thompson (R) passed away. Big Jim Thompson, as he was known, was the 37th and longest-serving governor of the state of Illinois, serving from 1977 to 1991. Thompson is survived by his wife Jayne and daughter Samantha. The Chicago Tribune describes Thompson as a moderate willing to work on a bipartisan basis to pass legislation.

“A better way to describe Thompson is as a tax thief,” said Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayers United of America (TUA). “Thompson was one of the worst tax-raisers in Illinois history. Thompson twice tried to increase the state’s income tax. He championed a ‘temporary’ tax hike in 1983 that took the income tax rate from 2.5% to 3% for two years. Then in 1989, Thompson raised taxes permanently to 3%.”

“When he retired, Thompson secured a gold-plated Illinois General Assembly Pension that his income tax increase would fund. This year, he was set to receive an annual pension of $165,987. His total pension payout from taxpayers stands at over $3,219,842.”

“However, since Governor Thompson has finally passed away, his wife will now receive survivor benefits. According to state law, Jayne Thompson will now receive 66 2/3% of her husband’s pension, increased at a rate of 3% compounded annually. Jayne will receive this pension, despite being reported to still work as President and CEO of her own company.”

“It’s pensions like these that are bankrupting Illinois. The Illinois General Assembly Retirement System in which Mrs. Thompson will receive payment is only funded at 15.65% thanks to overpromised pensions. That’s why the current Illinois governor wants to increase the Illinois income tax with a graduated rate: to take from you, to fund lavish government pensions.”

“Pritzker’s proposed state constitutional amendment is a wealth transfer from taxpayers to wealthy retired bureaucrats who produce nothing. It is urgent that taxpayers in Illinois vote no on Pritzker’s Income Theft Amendment this November 3 and force Illinois politicians to act within the bounds of reality.”