Prospect Heights SD 23 Teachers: Tone Deaf, Dumb, and Blind?

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Chicago—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) responds to Prospect Heights SD 23 Strike.
“It is incomprehensible that the teachers of SD 23 could actually strike at this time. By no measure are these ‘civil servants’ underpaid in employment or retirement,” stated TUA executive director, Rae Ann McNeilly.
“These teachers are effectively demanding that their neighbors take another pay cut, which will come in the form of even higher property taxes, so the teachers can make more today and in retirement. The reality is that these striking teachers must look their neighbors in the eyes and say, ‘I don’t really care if you can no longer afford to live in your home, as long as I get what I want.’”
“Government school teachers make more than their counterparts in the private sector in both wages and benefits, they enjoy virtually iron-clad job security, and are only active for about 8 months out of the year,” added McNeilly.
“In any case, the State of Illinois is near implosion, financially speaking, and it is just irresponsible for any government employee to expect compensation increases when the taxpayers who fund them can barely keep their own heads above water.”
“The most recent report indicates that the Prospect Heights Education Association, the union at the heart of the strike, expects taxpayers to cough up pay increases of 4.5% for the first two years of the three year contract and 4.25% for the third year. How many taxpayers have received comparable pay increases recently or expect such huge increases over the next three years? Most of our members are worried about hanging on to their homes and keeping up with their property taxes as is, yet Illinois tries to tax its way out of the financial debacle, the same way bureaucrats created it.”
“It’s about time for teachers, and any other government employees, to suck it up and live on the very fair wages they are already getting and give the taxpayers a break.”
“If they really want to do what’s best ‘for the children,’ they will let the kids’ parents keep more of their hard-earned money and hopefully continue to afford their property taxes.”
“The following data shows taxpayers what a few of these ‘poor civil servants’ are making in retirement; we can only imagine what kind of salaries warrant these pensions.”
Click here to see the complete list of SD 23 pensions.
“Although many of the top pensioners retired as administrators, they were all teachers first,” concluded McNeilly.

Kankakee on the Brink With Gov. Pension Liabilities

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CHICAGO—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of their updated study of the top government pensioners of Kankakee County, Kankakee County government schools, Kankakee Community College, and Kankakee municipal.
“Well over 1,000 of the Kankakee area government pensioners receive multi-million dollar lifetime pension payouts,” stated Jim Tobin, TUA president. “The pensioners’ average personal investment is only about 5.5% of the lifetime payouts.”
“While taxpayers struggle to make their property tax payments, working well beyond retirement age, these government pensioners enjoy lavish, gold-plated retirements beginning, on average, at the age of 58.”
“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. These government pensions are immoral and unethical theft of taxpayers’ hard-earned money to be given to the political elite to do absolutely nothing.”
“Kankakee police and fire pensions are some of the most troubled funds in the country. With 27.7% and 18.8% funding ratios, respectively, and more retirees collecting benefits than employees paying into the fund, they are rapidly spiraling to insolvency.”
“There are now 12,154 Illinois government pensions over $100,000 and 85,893 over $50,000 annually! Those are staggering numbers considering the taxpayers who fund these pensions get an average Social Security pension of about $15,000 a year.”
“I defy teachers, or any government employee, to look into their neighbors’ eyes and say, ‘You deserve another pay cut so I can make more in retirement than you make working.’ They have to be able to say to their neighbors, ‘I don’t care if you can no longer afford your home’s property tax payment; I want more. I want more of your money. I want more of your wealth. I want more of your property.’ That is the reality of demanding more lavish government pensions. If you are a government employee, your neighbor is your employer,” challenged Tobin.
“Retired Pembroke CCSD 259 government employee, Barbara J. Howery enjoys an annual taxpayer funded pension of $151,441. Over a normal lifetime, she will get about $4.4 million in pension payments. Her personal investment in this rich pension is about 5.3%, or $234,403.”
Larry Huffman retired from Kankakee Community College at only 54 years of age and his current annual pension is $134,960. He will collect about $4.4 million while he only put in $157,199 of his own money, slightly more than one year’s pension payout. That’s a 3.6% investment in his own multi-million dollar retirement payout!”
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“Although we did not support or endorse SB 1 as any kind of pension reform, as it did more harm than good, the unanimous ruling of the Illinois Supreme Court clearly illustrates the limited options available to solve the pension crisis…and the answers are not tax increases!”
“A constitutional amendment that is fair to taxpayers, as well as government employees, must be approved next year in 2016. In the meantime, if the Illinois General Assembly increased individual government employee contributions to their own gold-plated pensions by 10 percentage points, it would save taxpayers about $150 billion over the next 35 years, or about $4.3 billion a year, and save the State of Illinois from financial ruin. If nothing else, the Illinois General Assembly must pass legislation that permits local governments and taxing districts to file for Chapter 9.”
“Taxpayers must pursue these three paths forward to avoid disastrously higher taxes in the immediate future.”
“Rather than finding ways to perpetuate this horrible system that places copious amounts of cash in the hands of bureaucratic hacks, rank and file union members should be calling for the complete reform and conversion to 401(k)-style funds that places employees in control of their own futures. The union and political bosses must know that they just can’t tax their way out of this problem.”
“The choice is clear: without sweeping, meaningful pension reform, residents of Kankakee and nearly every other city in Illinois will have to choose between fully funding the pension systems to pay for the services provided in the past, or pay for the services we need today.”
“With Kankakee being rated the 6th most dangerous city in the state, we need to continue to provide services to the taxpayers living here now and ensure that their tax dollars aren’t squandered on propping up the unsustainable government pension system,” concluded Tobin.
*Lifetime estimated pension payout includes 3% compounded COLA and assumes life expectancy of 85 (IRS Form 590).

Pension Problems Hit Madison and St. Claire Counties

View as PDF  East St. Louis, IL – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) has released its most recent government pension study exposing individual pensions for Madison and St. Claire County government schools and county governments; Belleville, Collinsville, Alton, and Edwardsville municipal governments; and Southwestern Illinois College and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
“These government pensions explain why bureaucrats seek to increase taxes,” said TUA’s director of operations, Jared Labell.
“There are about 300 area government retirees collecting pensions of at least $100,000 annually, while 17.6% of St. Claire County residents live below the poverty level, along with 14% of Madison County residents.”
“Across 6 state pension funds, there are 12,154 government pensioners collecting six-figure pensions and 85,893 pensioners collecting more than $50,000 annually, where the state debt per capita is $24,959.”
“On average, these government pensioners contribute only about 5.5% to their own retirement payout. Taxpayers are forced to contribute $4 for every $1 that the government employees pay toward their own retirement. In the private sector, employees pay 15% of every dollar they earn into Social Security for an average pension of only $15,000!”
“Illinois’ state pension systems total nearly $200 billion in unfunded liabilities and the whole racket is inevitably unsustainable. The politicians have shown for years that they cannot be trusted to manage other peoples’ money, let alone their savings for retirement, nor should this be the role of government,” said Labell. “Each day that passes without transitioning new government employees from the current defined benefit plans to 401(k)-styled defined contribution plans is another lost opportunity to manage this ever-growing economic catastrophe. Not only would this change shield taxpayers from great financial risk, but it enables government employees to better manage their finances for their retirement needs and allows portability as they save for their own retirement.”
“Alton Police and Firefighters have some of the largest unfunded pension liabilities according to a 2013 report of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. The police funding ratio is only 29.3% and the firefighters fund is only 30.23%.”
“Taxpayers are on the hook for every penny of the shortfall in pension funding. Forcing taxpayers to pay such a heavy portion of someone else’s retirement is criminal,” said Labell.
“It is time to protect the future of taxpayers who have been scammed by politicians and union thugs into going along with a system that creates and constitutionally protects a special class of government elite.”
“It’s also time for union leadership to have a frank discussion with the rank and file, educating them on the inevitable collapse of an unsustainable crony system designed to siphon money from taxpayers for the benefit of the few. The unions should use those dues forced from members to bail out the pension system rather than use those funds to elect political cronies who keep them in power.”
“Take a look at the pension of Michael D. Gray who retired from East Alton SD 13. He gets $148,809 in annual pension payments. Retiring at only 54, his taxpayer funded pension payout will accumulate to more than $5.7 million! And his personal investment in that payout? A mere 3.7%.”
“Then there is Russell L. Clover’s pension. Retired from O’Fallon THSD 203, he gets $180,063 in annual pension payments. Those payments with compounded annual cost of living adjustments will accumulate to $4.5 million! His personal investment was only about 4.7%.”
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“This government pension system is the single cause of Illinois’ critical financial situation and it is mathematically impossible to tax our way out of this situation. 80% of local taxes go to fund government employee pay, pensions, and benefits.”
“The Illinois government has failed us; local governments have failed us. It is in everyone’s best interest to solve the pension problem before the system completely collapses. It is no longer a matter of ‘if’ it will collapse, but when.”
“Our solution is to immediately place all new hires into 401(k) style retirement savings accounts, increase member contributions to their retirement fund, increase retirement age for full benefits, and increase member contributions to 50% of health care premiums. Anything short of these reforms will do nothing to permanently solve the problem. If it takes a Constitutional Amendment, then we need to get that on the ballot in 2016.”