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Aurora–Taxpayers United of America’s Director of Outreach Val W. Zimnicki, in Aurora last week, called for the city to engage seriously with pension reform.

“It is fascinating how much things can change over 10 years.” Said Zimnicki.

“In 2011, the amount that taxpayers in the City of Aurora contributed to IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund) with their property taxes was $2,712,000. (The IMRF sucks up property taxes, while the other government pensions are supplemented with the state income tax.)

The amount contributed to the police pension fund was $10,155,400, and the firefighter pension fund was $8,339,700. Let’s look at how these numbers compare to 2021.”

“In 2021, City of Aurora taxpayers’ property taxes subsidized IMRF with $4,005,000. The amount contributed to the police pension fund was $19,039,600, and to the firefighter pension fund, $15,291,100.”

“In the span of 10 years, Aurora taxpayers are spending millions more on the lavish, gold-plated pensions of retired government employees. IMRF pension payments have gone up 47.67%, police pension payments have gone up 87.48%, and firefighter pension payments have gone up 83.35%. These payments are made yearly, and are expected to go even higher next year.”

“Aurora Taxpayers cannot afford this burden. In a study done by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, it was revealed that the tax rate of a median-valued home in the United States was 1.49 percent in 2017. Only a handful of cities have effective tax rates that are roughly 2.5 times higher than the average, which includes Aurora. The City of Aurora was shown to have an effective property tax rate of 3.76%!”

“The fact that so many taxpayer dollars are pulled from Aurora taxpayer’s pockets and funneled into the black hole that is the Illinois pension system is abominable. Taxpayers are always told that taxes are used to fund ‘basic necessities.’ Instead, they are used to fund the lavish retirements of government employees who retire in their 50s and early 60s.”

“Take for example William A. Wiet. Wiet was estimated in 2020 to receive $137,049 annually from his IMRF pension. He paid $158,009 into his own pension, and is estimated to receive $3,365,886 over the course of his lifetime.”

“Another example is Steven E. Booth. Booth was estimated in 2020 to receive $130,451 annually from his IMRF pension. He paid $100,020 into his own pension, and is estimated to receive $3,891,301 over the course of his lifetime. Booth retired at the age of 55.”

“Instead of benefiting a handful of elite government pensioners to sit around unproductively, the State of Illinois and Gov. Jay Robert ‘J. B.’ Pritzker should implement pension reform to reduce taxpayer burdens. Meaningful tax cuts can bring growth back to Illinois, and reverse the outflow of Illinois residents.”

“To that end, the City of Aurora should stop being a benefactor of government pensions and, instead, be a responsible steward of taxpayer’s money. It is time for those responsible for the City of Aurora’s finances to take a stand, and demand pension reform.”

Millionaire Monday: James A. DeLeo

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 James A. DeLeo is the very model of a modern IL. politician. He was a former Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives, and the Illinois Senate. He was also an Assistant Majority Leader for a period.  

During his time in Illinois politics, DeLeo, like so many other politicians was hostile to taxpayers. Take for example his performance in the 93rd Illinois General Assembly. He voted in favor of SB1725, a new death tax that at the time was estimated to cost taxpayers $200 million in 2004, and $500 million every year after. He voted in favor of SB842, a $59 million heavy machinery tax that targeted Illinois manufacturers, including of all things graphic design companies. He also voted in favor of SB83, a bill that allowed park districts to raise property taxes $10.5 million a year without referendum. When then Governor Blagojevich vetoed the bill, DeLeo voted in favor of the veto override.

DeLeo also had his share of controversies, which is the norm by Illinois standards. DeLeo was indicted by a federal grand jury in the “Operation Greylord” investigation of corruption in Cook County for taking bribes. Though nothing was found regarding bribes, in 1990 he was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation for claiming $1,700 in deductions he was not entitled to on his 1982 tax return.

Also like so many others, DeLeo is also a pension millionaire. DeLeo receives from his General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) pension an estimated $116,241 a year, with the majority of the money sourced from state taxpayers. DeLeo put $169,550 into his pension, and since his retirement from politics has been given an estimated $1,034,749. By the time he reaches 85, DeLeo is estimated to receive $3,377,802 from his pension.

There are plenty of pension millionaires, and we at Taxpayers United of America are going to put a spotlight on all of them! If taxpayers would like to view the latest annual report on Illinois pensions, there is a link to it on our website: 15th Annual Illinois Pension Report – Taxpayers United Of America

Pritzker To Kill-Off Small Businesses

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After Illinois governor Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker’s failed attempt to raise the Illinois state income tax with a graduated tax, Pritzker (D) has announced a plan to increase business taxes by an estimated $900 million.

“For Pritzker, to finish what he started with his lockdown and finish off small businesses is disgusting, but not out of character for him,” said Matthew Schultz, Executive Director of Taxpayers United of America (TUA). “In between the lockdowns, stealing tax cuts meant to help businesses, and now the closing of unspecified loopholes, Pritzker has shown nothing but contempt for struggling Illinois businesses.”

“Why is Pritzker increasing taxes? It is not for so-called services,” said Schultz. “Pritzker’s only goal is to funnel as much money as he can into the pockets of retired Illinois government employees. Pritzker’s loyalty to this affluent government class is so strong he would rather cannibalize parts of the state budget, than to dare touch their lavish, gold-plated pensions.”

“The Illinois government pension system has been crowding out state and local Illinois government budgets for years, and is the primary reason that politicians have raised Illinois taxes. However, taxes are also the top reason for residents fleeing Illinois. Since 2014, Illinois has seen its population continue to decline, and higher taxes will continue to exacerbate this problem.”

“Every person who leaves Illinois represents one less taxpayer, one less employee, and one less customer for businesses. Every person who leaves is a direct reduction in the size of the Illinois economy. There are increasingly fewer reasons to stay in Illinois, and ever more reasons to move. The state of Indiana, flush with cash from tax refugees fleeing Illinois, is offering money for people to move there. Contrast that with Illinois under Pritzker, which was set to steal another estimated $1.7 billion yearly from taxpayers in 2020.”

“There are solutions to fix Illinois. Pritzker could work to grow the Illinois economy, and thus the tax base. He could reform the Illinois government pension system to be fairer for taxpayers and ease budget problems. He could allow local governments to declare bankruptcy, and reform the budget for future growth. Instead, Pritzker has chosen the willful delusion that Illinois’ taxpayers and businesses can be taxed more forever. Eventually, something has to give, and it is looking more and more that it will be the economic backbone that is small business.”