Miami Hides Stunning Government Pension Payments from Taxpayers

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MIAMI—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) released estimated pension payouts for Miami and Dade County government employees as well as Miami-Dade government teachers. Florida refuses to release actual government pensions, ignoring citizens’ right to review all payments funded by taxes. TUA calculated estimated pensions for government employees based on actual salaries of current government employees to shed light on the largess of the tightly guarded secret payouts.
“Florida lawmakers have been trying to undo the damage of administrations past, that have made crushing deals with union bosses whose only concern is their own job security,” stated Rae Ann McNeilly, Director of Outreach for TUA.
“But despite efforts to reform the pension system, it seems that government officials are still willing to protect the system by keeping it hidden from review. The costs of shielding the system from review, and ultimately, reform, are devastatingly high as cities around the country are buckling under the weight of their unfunded liabilities. Pension funds are the number one budgetary problem in the country and Florida is no different.”
“While residents across Florida face crushing taxes, falling home values, high unemployment, and, at least according to some, another recession, government employees continue to receive stunning pensions funded by taxpayers who will never collect more than about $22,000 a year from Social Security.”
“As long as Florida shields its pension payments from taxpayer review and uses grossly overstated actuarial calculations, the Florida pension system remains a ticking time bomb. The purpose of our study is to put some perspective around individual pensions, to put them in terms to which the average taxpayer can relate.”
McNeilly continued, “For example, Robert Cuevas, Jr., county attorney, stands to collect an estimated annual pension of $198,472* based on his actual annual gross of $354,415. His estimated lifetime pension payout could be a staggering $6,440,421.*”
Stephen Hunt, a fire lieutenant, has an estimated annual pension of $202,989*, based on his actual annual gross of $202,989, with an estimated lifetime payout of $6,586,984.*
“Miami-Dade County government teacher, Sergio Cartas, has a lifetime estimated payout of $5,474,290* with an estimated annual pension of $168,699*, based on his actual annual gross of $301,249.”
View pension amounts below:

“Florida’s government pension systems are crushing middle class Floridians. Replacing defined benefit pensions for all new government hires with social security and 401(k)s would eventually eliminate unfunded government pensions. Current government employees must consider a voluntary pension contribution of up to 10% to preserve their pension benefits. Additionally, all members should pay for 50% of their healthcare premiums. We need a stable system that is fair to both taxpayers and beneficiaries or pension checks will stop coming,” added McNeilly.
*TUA submits FOIA requests for current employee salaries and estimates pensions based on the current pension laws. COLA average of 3% per year worked, uses 23 years of pension payments based on IRS form 590 LE of 85. Assumes employee worked 35 years and retired at age 62. No personal information is provided so calculations are accurate based on the necessary assumptions.

Politicians & Unions—Lying to Ill. Taxpayers About Gov't Pensions Since '95

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CHICAGO–Politicians and government-employee unions have been lying to Illinois taxpayers about government pension plans and their problems since 1995, charges levied by pension analyst and Taxpayers United of America (TUA) Director of Research Bill Zettler in his landmark book, “Illinois Pension Scam,” published on April 1, 2012. And, according to TUA President Jim Tobin, the media have helped perpetuate these “big lies.”
“A June 19, 2012, Associated Press article in the Daily Herald uncritically repeated these lies,” said Tobin. “It stated that ‘For years, states failed to pay their full share of pension cost…so the problem won’t be wiped away if the economy improves.’ Quoting Robert Rich of the University of Illinois, the article later states, ‘Much of the pension problem was created by states failing to contribute their share in retirement systems.’ This is an Orwellian use of misleading language.”
“When you say the state is in arrears on its pension payments, you are saying the taxpayer is in arrears. When you say it is the state’s fault you are saying it is the taxpayer’s fault,” states Zettler.
In fact, adds Zettler, over the years, Illinois taxpayers have over-contributed. “Since the taxpayers over-contributed and over accumulated shouldn’t the people who benefit directly from the pension system, i.e., the public employees and public retirees pay any excess amounts due,” asks Zettler. “Why is this a taxpayer liability?”

Concludes Zettler, “So if the taxpayers have done more than their share, why are [public-employee pension programs] $85 billion unfunded? Mainly it is because of new benefits handed out to public employees like Christmas candy….”
For solving the Illinois government-employee pension deficit of $85 billion, Zettler says: “Let’s go back to the rules originally presented to us in 1995 by rolling back all the pension enhancements passed into law since 1995 and watch the unfunded pension liability and taxpayer pension taxes drop like a rock. We never agreed to these increased pension benefits and should not be obligated to pay for them. Let those who received the increased benefits pay for them.”

Nevada Government Pension Estimates Produce Excellent Press Coverage for TUA

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Last week, Taxpayers United of America released the top pension amounts for Nevada state employees. Director of Outreach, Rae Ann McNeilly, held two well-attended press conferences in the state, one in Las Vegas and the other in Carson City.
Five network TV stations were in attendance and the resulting press coverage speaks for itself. TUA received excellent press coverage from:

Of particular note was the ABC 13 Action News story from reporter Blake McCoy. To see the story, click on the image below:
Play video from ABC 13 Action News
TUA will be revealing more states’ pension amounts across the nation, including those of Arizona and Florida in the coming weeks.
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