The Herald-News | Taxpayers United focuses on Will County pensions

Taxpayers United of America’s operations director, Jared Labell, was quoted by The Herald-News in an article about Taxpayers United of America’s recent pension release for Will County and Joliet.

Taxpayers United of America on Wednesday put a spotlight on pensions in Will County and Joliet.heraldnewsart

 The Chicago-based organization said 266 public school retirees are collecting pensions in six-figures, while listing pensions for hundreds of individual retirees from area schools, Will County, Joliet and Joliet Junior College.
Public school retirees had the highest pensions, with many of those listed going to former school superintendents, the highest being $303,000 a year.
Taxpayers United has created the same lists for other counties and the state of Illinois in pushing for changes in government pension systems.
Specifically, the organization wants new hires switched to 401(k)-styled retirement accounts and current employees to contribute more money to their pensions.
Individual pensions are listed to draw attention to the state’s pension problems, said Jared Labell, operations director for Taxpayers United.
“I think people’s eyes still glaze over when you’re talking about $111 billion in unfunded liabilities,” Labell said. “We think it’s very helpful to be able to individualize it and put a name to it. Not so people can take up torches and go after their neighbors, but so they can look at it and say, ‘Wow, that’s the teacher who was teaching my son a few years ago and she’s making how much?'”
Some of the most recognized names on the lists are former school superintendents, police chiefs and other administrators whose positions made them public figures.
Taxpayers United drew attention to the pension of former Plainfield School District 202 Superintendent John Harper, whose salary at times was an issue before he retired in 2014.
Harper’s pension, according to Taxpayers United, is $239,019 a year.
Harper, 54, retired last year and took a job as principal at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox. According to Taxpayers United, Harper can expect to collect $11 million in pension payments in his lifetime while contributing a personal investment of 3.2 percent.
Harper could not immediately be reached Wednesday for comment.
Plainfield School District 202 spokesman Tom Hernandez issued a statement saying Harper’s contract was based on his “success guiding what was the fourth largest school district in Illinois through almost 10 years of unprecedented growth, significant curriculum change, tremendous socioeconomic changes and many other challenges unique” to the school district.
Harper had the second highest pension in Will County, according to the list.
The highest is former Lincoln-Way School District 210 Superintendent Lawrence Wyllie, at $302,991. Wyllie’s contributions were calculated at 13.2 percent. The school district could not be immediately reached for comment.
Pensions Listed at

Killer Taxes Choke the Life Out of Will County

View as PDF Chicago, IL – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) has released its most recent government pension study exposing individual pensions for Joliet municipal, Will County, Will County government schools, and Joliet Junior College retirees.
“Across the 5 state pension funds, there are more than 12,154 government pensioners collecting six-figure pensions and over 85,893 pensioners collecting more than $50,000 where the local per-capita income is about $30,377 and the state debt per capita is $24,959,” said Jared Labell, TUA’s director of operations.
“266 Will County government teachers are drawing more than $100,000 in annual pension payments and 2,092 are getting more than $50,000! On average, these government pensioners contribute only about 5.5% to their own retirement payout.”
“Until 2011, Joliet was the fastest growing city in the region but that growth has slowed to just .85% in 2014. Government is the problem – government is the largest employer in Joliet and government payroll and pensions come from taxation. Government jobs don’t create wealth or growth – they simply siphon more money away from individual taxpayers.”
“The Joliet police and fire pension funds are in abysmal shape, each funded only about 50%.  Worse yet, Joliet’s IMRF liabilities are only about 35% funded. This is putting services in jeopardy, as pensions for services rendered in the past are competing for tax dollars needed for current services.”
“Taxpayers already are contributing four times as much to the pension funds than the government employees themselves, so for every dollar an employee puts into the fund, you and I put in 4.  Forcing taxpayers to pay such a heavy portion of someone else’s retirement is criminal.”
“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 John R. Harper who retired from Plainfield SD 202. He gets $239,019 in annual pension payments. Retiring at only 54, his taxpayer funded pension payout will accumulate to more than $11 million! And his personal investment in that payout? A mere 3.2%.”
“Then there is Daniel T. Tapper, retired from Will County government. He gets $122,126 in annual pension payments and because he retired at only 50, those payments with compounded annual cost of living adjustments will accumulate to $6.4 million! His personal investment was only about 2.6% or $166,905.”
Click to view pensions for

“The average Social Security ‘pension’ is only about $15,000 a year and taxpayers pay 15% of every penny they earn for that modest payout.”
“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.”
“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 as soon as possible!”

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).