Illinois News Network|Federal workers paid for union time

Taxpayers United of America’s Executive Director, Jared Labell, was quoted by Illinois News Network about union influences on federal agencies.

The practice of federal agencies providing employees to work on behalf of unions is being questioned in a new report recently published by the Americans for Limited Government Foundation.
The report, created through Freedom of Information Act requests, identifies 490 federal employees who work as full-time union employees but are being paid with taxpayer dollars.
It found instances of employees devoted to union work at the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Postal Service and the Departments of Energy, Education, Labor, Commerce and Homeland Security.
The report estimates that the practice has cost $1 billion in tax-supported salaries over the past 20 years – more if local and state governments were included.
Jared Labell, executive director of the Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America, said the report indicates that unions have a stranglehold of influence over federal agencies, and that the agencies don’t have much incentive to change.
“I think it’s kind of an iron triangle of issues,” Labell said. “It helps perpetuate the system, and so it benefits the labor unions, it benefits the politicians, and so why would they want to change the status quo?”
Labell said the issue of union-supported employees is magnified at the state level, where his organization is working to enact reforms to reduce union influence on taxpayer-funded agencies.
“By putting pressure there, we can make federal reforms as well,” Labell said. “So I think it’s great (to have) as many organizations as possible to highlight this issue, among many, and to try to get reforms enacted.”
According to Labell, the practice has become so ingrained in how government conducts business, it won’t change unless more people become involved and speak out. “This is an issue that has gone on without serious reforms for decades, so contacting your elected officials – that’s one way to get the ball rolling for hopefully more transparency and reform of a system that is a net loss for taxpayers.”
This article was also featured by Alton Daily News
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Sangamon Sun|Report: State pension reform needed to avoid 'catastrophic' fate

Taxpayers United of America’s Executive Director, Jared Labell, was quoted by Sangamon Sun about TUA’s 10th Annual Illinois State Pension Report.

Taxpayers United of America (TUA) recently released its 10th Annual Illinois State Pensions Report examining the state’s General Assembly Retirement System (GARS), Judges’ Retirement System (JRS), Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), State Universities Retirement System (SURS), State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).
The report takes an in-depth look at the problems with the state’s pension programs, dating back to 1989, which stem from irresponsible policies and political mistakes, and gave rise to today’s fiscal catastrophe.
“In 1989, Gov. James Thompson (R) agreed to enhance pension benefits by establishing an annual 3 percent compounded cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase for retirees beginning January 1, 1990,” the report said. “This single enhancement of government retirees’ benefits is a central contributor to the skyrocketing unfunded liabilities Illinois has accumulated in the nearly three decades since that legislation was enacted.”
Included in the report is a case study of the Top 40 Pensioners between 2006 and 2016 using projected lifetime pension payouts as a basis.
“Surveying the growth of these pensions over the past decade provides a snapshot of the financial burdens Illinois taxpayers face, illustrating the extent of the unfunded liabilities accrued and the cost of not implementing reform,” the report said.
Also revealed in the report is that 15,661 state pensioners each collect more than $100,000 annually, and 92,638 state pensioners each collect more than $50,000, based on data collected through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
TUA’s updated data for the Top 400 Illinois Pensioners of 2016 indicate that the total pension payout so far this year alone is $91,573,671, and the total pension collected to date is $657,971,664. The average pension is $228,934, with the average employee pension contribution being $266,671. The average estimated lifetime pension payout is $5,697,754.
“Although the current options to address the state’s government pension crisis are limited for policymakers, our research concludes that immediate reforms are necessary to avoid an even more catastrophic financial landscape in the near future,” the report said. “Solutions must focus on long-term solvency in the interest of both government retirees and taxpayers.”
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has championed pension reform in Illinois, both on the campaign trail and since taking office last year. But with Democrats controlling both chambers of the General Assembly, Rauner has faced significant push-back.
“Illinois’ government-employee pensions are unsustainable,” Jared Labell, TUA’s executive director, said in a press release. “The Illinois Constitution’s pension-protection clause – Article XIII, Section 5 – unfairly chains generations of taxpayers to an uncontrolled financial burden created by the disastrous decisions of politicians in Springfield.”

Madison County Record|The very expensive and cynical lesson David Werner taught us

Data from Taxpayers United of America’s recent 10th Annual Illinois State Pension Report was used by Madison County Record in an article about David Werner’s outstanding pension paid for by tax dollars.

More than 100,000 Illinoisans have graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville during its nearly 60 years of operation.
As chancellor from 1998 to 2004, David Werner deserves some of the credit for the quality of education SIUE students received during that six-year period, but he deserves even more credit (or discredit) for the lesson he’s taught all of us taxpayers since his retirement.
The lesson, unfortunately, already has cost a lot more than a four-year degree from the E, and we won’t know the final tab until Werner enjoys an emeritus position at that Ivory Tower in the sky.
It’s part of a course that could be called “How to Game the System as a State Employee and Live like a Millionaire in Retirement.”
We don’t have to go to class for instruction or attend online because Werner doesn’t lecture. After all, he’s retired, right?
No, Werner has taught by example. He figured out how to game the system and all we have to do is study his methods, learn the obvious lessons, apply them ourselves if we were the sort of persons who did such things, and then enjoy an early retirement and a life of leisure at the expense of taxpayers – or go to an early grave worrying about how high state taxes will have to be raised to pay for all of the prodigies following in Werner’s silk-slippered footsteps.
More than 92,000 Illinois state pensioners collect more than $50,000 each annually, according to a recent report from Taxpayers United of America. More than 15,000 collect more than $100,000 each every year.
Werner is one of the top 400 collectors (#76). He retired at the age of 62 and gets $252,704 in benefits yearly, which is more than the total he put into the plan. He’s already collected two and a half million dollars and could eventually break five million.
Did we really need to learn such an expensive lesson? Can we get a refund?