Category Archives: pension, general

Pension recipients should want to fix pensions

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I have several neighbors who are are afraid, that if Illinois touches anybody’s pension that they  could loose their own.    First let me say


No one will take your modest pension

We can change pensions going forward, for new employees with legislation.  However, any modification to the  already promised pensions requires negotiation, the legislature placing an amendment on the ballot and the voters approving it.

Take a look at these top pensions.  Can you justify raising taxes on the working poor & middle income folks to fund these?  Will you be willing to make small changes now, in order to avoid a total collapse?


Taxpayers United of America – 2017 Pension Report

Starting at taxpayersunitedofamericaorg/items-of-interest/11th-annual-report-illinois-state-pensions and clicking on the reports for each of hte state-run pension funds, we find the top few state pensions are all for retirees in the State University Retirement System (SURS)







  • Nearly 17,000 Illinois Government Pensions Exceed $100,000 as of 2017
  • Nearly 100,000 Illinois government retirees collect annual pensions totaling $50,000 or more.
  • The average annual Social Security retirement benefit for taxpayers is less than $17,000 and the maximum benefit is $32,000 if working until 66.

Comparing to census data

According to the US Census 2017 data for Illinois:  Bureau

Median household income (in 2016 dollars), 2012-2016 was $59,196.
Per capita income in past 12 months (in 2016 dollars), 2012-2016 was $31,502.

And their state income tax went up last summer so that all pensioners can continue to get a 3%  compounded COLA (Cost of living allowance), including those receiving pension well in excess of the median family income.


Ives’ Statement of pensions:


Jeanne on the House floor

Watch Jeanne argue and kill a bill allowing a pension holiday

Jeanne Ives on FB-Live

If you are on Facebook, you can watch the FB-live video of Jeanne Ives at The University of Chicago Institute of Politics on 3/5/2018

She says

  • “In the state of Illinois, when you look at the cost of our pensions, it is 23% of our income.  The average in other states is 3%.”
  • “Illinois has become one big Ponzi schemes.”
  • “The  police and fire in Chicago… are just one down-turn short of insolvency. “
  • “We are number 3 in the nation in terms of state support for full time equivalent student… it’s just that half of that goes to pensions…”
  • “In the last 30 years pension costs have grown over a 1,000%. In the same time, personal income has grown just over 100%… ten times!”
  • “We are number 1 in supporting pensioners. We are number 48 in supporting developmentally disabled.”
  • “If you had understood, how these pensions were ballooning, you would have had a decrease in the salary acceleration…”
  • “If we still had the same tenants in our pension plan, as we had in the 1970’s we would not even have a crisis.  They went from a 1.5 multiplier to a 2.2 multiplier.  They went from you have to be 62 or over 60, to you can retire with 2 years of sick leave accrual and retire before you are 55.  And then they went from a 1% COLA to a 3% compounded COLA…”

We need to have the discussion.  We need to find a way to ensure that pensions will be here for years to come while still providing state services and without chasing the taxpayers out of the state.

2016 data – retirees earn more than teachers who replace them

The “TRS IL Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016” is now on-line

pdf page 102 has active member data. Page 110 retirees

How is it fair that when a
teacher with 30 years of experience with average earning of $102,896/year
retires with an average starting pension of  $68,556/year …
gets a 3% increase every year… COLA

while the new teacher who replaces her
averages less than $49,464/year* and
will have a tax increase to pay for the retirees COLA.


* $49,464 is the average for teachers with less than 5 years, new teachers are likely lower

Superintendent History – CUSD 200

How much has District 200 been paying for superintendents over the years?

superintendent salary

Note: Curley was an acting Superintendent. 1999 to 2012 data was downloaded as excel files from the “Family Taxpayer association” website. 2013-2015 was found on
The inflation calculator is (based on federal government statistics.

Dr. Catalani’s contract called for end of career salary spikes of 20% per year compounded for 3 years.  When he turned 60, his 3% compounded annual COLA (cost of living adjustment) kicked in.
Illinois taxpayers are paying for Dr Catalani pension ($293,220 in 2015) and District 200 is still paying for his medical insurance.


catalani pay and pension

Superintendent, Brian Harris abruptly left Wheaton-Warrenville, CUSD200 on May 29, 2014 to take over as superintendent of Barrington Unit District 220. As a result Harris’ base pay went from $219,370 to $260,000. A year earlier, on May 28, 2013, with three years left on his on contract, Harris had received a new five-year contract with a $20,000 base salary increase. When Harris announced his departure, he had served CUSD200 for four years and still had more than four years left on his five-year contract. CUSD200 forgave Dr. Harris’ $40,000 get-out-of-contract-early penalty in exchange for Harris recommending his own replacement.

Retirees Out-Earn Teachers Who Replace Them

Look at the “TRS IL Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30,2015”

pdf page 100 has active member data.  Page 109 retirees.


In 2015,

  • Average salary for new teachers (under 5 years of service) is $47,796
  • Average salary for soon to retire teachers (25-29 years of service) is $94,410
  • and (30-34 years) $100,785


Then look at retiree data.

  • Those retired less than 1 year who worked 25-29 years have an average starting (and current) benefit of $3,222/month = $38,664
  • And 30-34 years experience have $5,646/month = $67,752


Note, those retired longer, may have a higher current pension.  Current pensions peak for those retired 10-14 years ago (that would be retired in 2002-2006)

  • 25-29 years experience have a current pension of $4,580 = $54,960
  • and 30-34 years experience have a current pension of $6,295 = $75,540

This tells us a couple things.

  1.  When a teacher who worked a full career (30+ years) retires, the retiree will have a starting pension ($67,752) for not working that exceeds her replacement’s starting salary ($47,796) for working.
  2. Retiree COLA (3% annually compounded) exceeds the amount the salary curves are going up.

From page 100 of the pdf (active teachers salary chart)

trs salary2015

From page 109 of the pdf (retired teachers pension chart)

pension data 2015 p 109

Top 400 Illinois pensions in 2016

Taxpayer Education Foundation has published the top 400 Illinois pensions as of 2016. There are 15,661 state pensioners collecting more than $100,000 per year and 92,386 state pensioners collecting more than $50,000 per year.

Many of these people will receive more in retirement than they did while working.   The system is unsustainable.

Taxpayers Cover $4 Million$ in Teachers College Costs

“Taxpayers in 70 suburban school districts paid more than $4 million last year to send 3,085 teachers back to college.”  This increase in education leads to higher salaries and higher pensions.   did an excellent job of covering the details in the Daily Herald:

Send your comments to:

Capping Pensions would save How Much?

The Illinois Supreme court rulings overturning all attempted pension reforms for current retirees and employees means that any real pension fix will require an Illinois’ Constitution amendment and most likely  an agreement with the government-employee unions.  Two suggestions that I (Jan Shaw) have been making are:


  1. Tie any Cost of Living allowance (COLA) to inflation and the health of the fund. No COLA if doing so would result in the fund being less than 100% funded.  And cola should never exceed inflation.


  1. Many pensions are out of line. Based on 2013 data, we discovered that the average starting pension for a recently retired teachers who worked 30+ years ($70,894), exceeded the average pay for active teachers ($67,558).  Cap pensions at a reasonable amount (set $ amount or percent of the maximum salary for which social security is taken).


In order to get a handle on how much could be saved if pensions were capped, I copied data from

The “TRS – Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” made a few basic assumptions and ran some what-if scenarios.

For 2014, the data is on page 104 (of the pdf)

For 2015, the data is on page 109 (of the pdf)

trs pension pay

The charts group retirees based on years of service and how long since retirement.  For each group they show the number of Retirees, the Average current benefit, and the Average original benefit. For my estimates, I assumed that all retires in each group receive the average.  Thus the number of retirees affected based on my computations may be higher than the actual number but the $ savings should be accurate.


These savings are based on TRS data only.  Other pension plans would also have savings.


Year 2014 2015
Total paid $5,189,487,408 $5,459,528,136
 # retirees 101,184 103,501
if capped at $50,000
annual savings $1,118,127,216 $1,279,533,828
%savings 22% 23%
# affected 59,220 61,733
% affected 59% 60%
if capped at $55,000
annual savings  $841,750,932 $968,973,684
%savings 16% 18%
# affected 50,975 53,421
% affected 50% 52%
if capped at $65,000
annual savings $369,812,448 $476,685,432
%savings  7% 9%
# affected  41,310 48,578
% affected 41% 47%


For another data point, see Tax Payers United of America’s “10TH ANNUAL REPORT ILLINOIS STATE PENSIONS” report.

According to it:

15,661 state pensioners each collect more than $100,000 annually

  • GARS – 51
  • JRS – 636
  • TRS – 9,596
  • SURS – 3,955
  • SERS – 880
  • IMRF – 543 92,386

state pensioners each collect more than $50,000 annually

  • GARS – 158
  • JRS – 741
  • TRS – 56,111
  • SURS – 15,628
  • SERS – 13.960
  • IMRF – 5,788



Only in Illinois, a state on the verge of bankruptcy, can its very own lawmakers accelerate bankruptcy by their very own greed to get what they can before the inevitable event occurs. Yes; Illinois legislators, on both sides of the aisle, passed laws granting themselves golden pensions, for their part-time jobs to represent “we, the people of Illinois.”

In 1995, State Rep. Dave Leuchtefeld (R) was the first to opt out of the General Assembly Retirement System.

Since 2010, Rep. Ron Sandack has advocated for his HB138 legislation that would kill pensions for new lawmakers.

Synopsis of HB138 as Introduced:

Amends the General Assembly Article of the Illinois Pension Code. Restricts participation in the General Assembly Retirement System by members of the General Assembly to persons who become participants before January 1, 2016 and provides that, beginning on that date, the System shall not accept any new participants who are members of the General Assembly. Makes related changes. Effective immediately.

GARS is only 16.8% funded (FY2015). So; it is underfunded by hundreds of millions for a very small number of participants. Taxpayers are on the hook for an even bigger future bill.


#1 HIGHEST GARS PENSION TO-DATE:  Arthur Berman (D) now takes $19,652 a month ($235,824); His pension includes a pension spike via Chicago Public Schools; served as state senator for 31 years; retired in 2000.

Retired Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (D) now takes $132,384/year($11,032/month); with some pension spiking. He served as a state senator for 8 years;

Retired Governor Pat Quinn (D) now takes $133,164/year ($11,097/month).  Years of service in legislator undocumented at this time;

Retired House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R) now takes $81,012/year ($6,751/month). He served as a state representative since 1993; and

State Senator Kirk Dillard (R) now takes $6,831 per month ($81,972/year). He served in the state senate from 1994-2014.

Every single one of the examples cited above have pensions significantly higher that their annual pay as part-time legislators; currently about $68,000 per year; more if committee chairman, etc. It is called greed, and taking care of business for themselves.


RK 5/7/16

Illinois State legislators who have declined a state pension

The following is a list of current (May 2016) legislators who turned down their pension.  Is your Rep on  this list?  If not, ask why.


State of Illinois legislators (38) who have declined to take a state pension:

House (34)

  • Steven Anderson, R-Geneva*
  • John Anthony, R-Plainfield*
  • Mark Brainsick, R-Plainfield*
  • Avery Bourne, R-Raymond*
  • Peter Breen, R-Lombard*
  • Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park
  • Tim Butler, R-Springfield*
  • John Cabello, R-Machesney Park*
  • Katherine Cloonen, D-Kankakee
  • C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville
  • Scott Drury, D-Highwood
  • Brad Halbrook, R-Charleston
  • Josh Harms, R-Watseka
  • Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton*
  • Sara Jimenez, R-Leland Grove*
  • Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon*
  • Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego
  • Dave Leuchtefeld, R-Okawville
  • Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill
  • Karen McConnaughay, R-Aurora
  •  Margo McDermed, R-Frankfort*
  • David McSweeney, R-Cary
  • Anna Moeller, D-Elgin
  • Thomas Morrison, R-Palatine*
  • Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines
  • Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove
  • Reggie Phillips, R-Charleston
  • Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove*
  • Sue Scherer, D-Decatur
  • Silvana Tabares, D-Chicago
  • Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville*
  • Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake*
  • Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego*
  • Kathleen Willis, D-Addison


Senate (4)

  • Belinda Bush, D-Grayslake
  • Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park
  • Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill
  • Julie Morrison, D-Des Plaines

* Denotes current HB sponsors


Non-legislators who advocate against the state legislators’ pension system:

Governor Bruce Rauner (R)

Comptroller Leslie Munger (R)


Note:  Although not in the above list of names; in 2011, former State Treasurer and State Representative Dawn Clark-Netsch (D) paid back $10,000 from her pension to the state.

Current status of  the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS)

Net Present Assets $56,789,460
Actuarial Total Liability $323,379,470
Unfunded Liability $266,590,010
Percent Funded 17.56%
Active Participants 158
Beneficiaries 421
Average Salary $71,114