Are parents paying attention?

New Law in Illinois – LGBT History

HB0246 101st General Assembly signed into law on 8/9/2019.

Effective July 1, 2020.

Synopsis “With regard to the textbook block grant program, provides that the textbooks authorized to be purchased must include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act and must be non-discriminatory as to any of the characteristics under the Act. Provides that textbooks purchased with grant funds must be non-discriminatory. Provides that in public schools only, the teaching of history of the United States shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.”  [highlighting added]

Continue reading “Are parents paying attention?”

Financial Condition of IL State Retirement Systems FY 2015

This entry has links to  several recent (2015-2016) reports on pensions.

Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability published a report in March 2016:

Report on the Financial Condition of the State Retirement Systems FY 2015

From Page 24



From page 26

FY15 ILPenUndundedHistory


COMPREHENSIVE ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015

On page 100 (of the pdf) we fing that the average salary for active teachers in 2015 was $69,538

What’s driving Illinois’ $111 billion pension crisis

From the report:

  • The average career pensioner – retired after Jan. 1, 2013, with 30 years of service or more – receives $66,800 in annual pension benefits and will collect over $2 million in total benefits over the course of retirement.
  • The average career pensioner will get back his or her employee contributions after just two years in retirement. In all, pensioners’ direct employee contributions will only equal 6 percent of what they will receive in benefits over the course of their retirements.

IPI report career pensions

Comparing the average teacher salary of $69,538 in 2015 to the average current pension for those in TRS who retired after 1/1/2013 and had 30 years of creditable service, $73,300,  we see that recently retired teachers are paid more in retirement than those actively working.

Illinois Pension Reform: Three Wrongs Do Not Make a Right

Number 4 in its key points:

“Rather than reforming the system now with minimal discomfort, such delays threaten future taxpayers and pensioners with far more significant measures.”


TUA – Top DuPage Pensions

According to Taxpayers United of America (TUA), 836 DuPage County Government Teacher Pensions are in the top 6.6% National Income Level.  click here.

  • Top 70 Naperville Police annual Pensions as of 6/30/2014 range from $106,595 to $20,465 view
  • Top 56 Naperville Fire annual Pensions as of 6/30/2014 rnge from $104,840 to $18,453 view
  • Top 50 Naperville Government Employees Pensions range from $156,146 to $51,539 view
  • DuPage County Government Schools Annual Pensions Over $100,000 has 836 entries ranging from  $284,674  to $100,007 view

“There are more than 11,054 Illinois annual government pensions over $100,000, in the state pension system alone, as of April 1, 2014; by 2020, there will be 25,000.” – TUA


Who has been in control?

Elections Have Consequences – your vote matters!
Do you like the direction that Illinois is going?How about the federal debt?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein

Who Controls the state of Illinois?

IL leadership

Democrats have held the majority in the Illinois House and Illinois Senate as well as the Governor’s office, Secretary of State and Attorney General since January of 2003. By the end of this term that will be 12 years.  Michael Madigan has been speaker of the House all but two years since 1983. At the end of this term he will have been Speaker for 30 out of the last 32 years.  His daughter, Lisa Madigan is Attorney General – the state’s top lawyer.

Who has Illinois sent to Washington DC?

IL sent to DC


The number of Congressional districts is the number of House seats and depends upon the population of the state vs. the entire country.  Illinois has been losing seats because we are losing population, or at least not growing as fast as the other states.  Congressional Districts are redrawn after each census (every ten years)


Which Party Controls the federal government?

who controls DC


Smart Meter Legislation – who voted? & Who received Contributions?

ComEd can install Smart meters due to a bill, SB1652 which passed the Illinois House and Senate in 2011.  Who imposed this legislation?  They actually voted twice – the 2nd time to override Quinn’s veto of the bill.   Direct links are at the end of these instructions.  Instructions are here as an example for anyone wanting to look up other past legislation.

  • Start at
  • Scroll down and click on “Previous General Assemblies”
  • Pick “97(2011 – 2012)”
  • Click “Listing” in “Legislation & Laws       Listing   Search”
  • Under “Senate Bills” Pick SB1652
  • Scroll down, in the chart find the last vote, as in “10/26/2011 House              Override Governor Veto – House Passed 074-042-000”
  • Then click on the entries to find the final Senate and House over-ride votes

Senate override:

House override:




If you are curious which state legislators received ‘contributions’ from Comed and Ameren (the two utility company culprits behind this madness) and how much they received, follow this example:

  •  Go to
  •  Click on ‘Incumbents’
  •  Using Senator Christine Radogno as an example, click on ‘Senate’
  •  Enter ‘Radogno’ in the last name field, select ‘2009’ in the ‘From’ field, select ‘2011’ in the ‘To’ field, and click on ‘Search’
  •  Scrolling down, you will see 3 entries on the next screen, one for each year – click on the 2011 entry
  •  Scrolling down the next page, you will find Exelon/Com Ed with a contribution of $66,500
  •  Scroll down further and click on the Top 50 contributors – you’ll find Ameren to the tune of $28,500
  •  You can also start your search by identifying a contributor such as ‘Ameren’ or ‘Exelon’ – this is not only more revealing, but it helps to bring to life the term ‘corporatocracy’ that was referenced multiple times in the video “Take Back Your Power”

Why does ComEd need an Armed Guard to handout “FREE” “Smart” Ice-Cream?

“We live in the Chicago suburbs. Our plan yesterday afternoon was to swim at the public pool. We entered the pool parking lot and saw the Smart (meter) Meets Sweet ice cream truck.   We turned around and went home to make protest signs and to print out simple information sheets.  

We arrived back at the pool and  selected a spot that was safely out of traffic, that was far enough away from the ComEd people so we would not be “in their face”, and that was far enough away from the pool building so we were not in the way of pool patrons.  One of the ComEd workers immediately began taking pictures of us with her phone.

We noticed an armed guard and were shocked!  Who was he there protecting?
Wheaton smartmetersweet truck armed ComEd
A female pool patron passed by and told us she that she had a smart meter, but was against them.  That lady was approached by two  ComEd employees.  One of the them went back to the ice cream truck and returned with a generic, blank notebook in hand.   My daughter was curious.  Thinking the notebook was some sort of petition, she approached the two women.  When my daughter asked the pool patron if this was, in fact, a petition, the ComEd worker rudely interrupted, “I am engaging with a customer.”
The most disturbing part of this interaction was when the armed guard approached my daughter, coming within 2 feet of her.  She was a defenseless young woman walking empty-handed toward two other women.
What is ComEd up to that requires an armed guard to be posted with their ice cream truck?
Who was it who said that people will always tell you what they are afraid of?  It seems to me that the presence of the armed guard and the bribe of ice cream are proofs that ComEd and the government fear an informed public.”

Pensions explained.

A previous version of this was posted on 
An updated version is being posted here, on now   All links were valid when originally posted, but may no longer exist. A.K.A. way back machine may find the content of old links.  Links for newer (updated data) are indicated in Blue.

Pension Explanation

The state funded public pension systems that are bankrupting the state of Illinois are “defined benefit” systems.  Each system sets a level of employee contributions and promised benefits based upon a formula.  The formulas assume matching employer (taxpayer) contributions, returns-on-investment, and amounts to be paid out based upon employee demographics, salary histories and actuarial tables.  If everything had gone as planned, the pension funds would be fully funded; since it hasn’t, the taxpayers are expected to pick up the shortfall.

Consider the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) as an example. The following chart shows the ratio between the TRS assets and TRS obligations.

trsfundinglevel 1987to2011

From page 8 of

Notice that in 1987 the TRS was about 70% funded. In 1994, Illinois passed legislation increasing the amount the state would contribute to pension funds. In 2004, Illinois sold pension obligation bonds in hopes of shoring up the pension funds. The TRS assumed that the invested assets would earn 8.5% in return-on-investments.  However actual returns-on-investment vary greatly. In 2001 and 2002 the TRS lost money, and from 2007 to 2009 the TRS lost about a fourth of its value.  The 2013 Report lists a funding ratio based on “Actuarial value” of 40.6%

End of Career Salary Spiking

Another factor causing the pension shortfall was wide spread salary spiking which occurred during the last two decades.   Salary spiking is defined as extra pay raises and/or high paying special projects that increase end of career salary and thus increase the pension for life.  In 2010 salary spiking resulted in the TRS paying out $3 for every $2 it had anticipated paying.  this chart is based on information from a 2011 FOIA request.

TRS effect of spiking

Pensions vs. Social Security and Incomes

Taxpayers never agreed to pay whatever it takes to fund public sector pensions, especially given the fact that many of these pensions exceed what those in the private sector receive.

  • In 2014 the maximum Social Security for an individual retiring at age 66 was approximately $30,000.
  • According to, (Table H-8B.  Median Income of Households by State Using Three-Year Moving Averages: 1984 to 2012) Illinois’ three year median household income peaked in 1998 to 2000 period at  $62,001 (inflation adjusted).  It dropped to $52,284 in the 2010 to 2012 period. While many taxpayers saw their incomes decline, public sector pensioners received cost of living allowances (COLA).  For instance, TRS paid a 3% compounded COLA.
  • Based on data in the June 30, 2013 TRS “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,” the average salary for those with less than 5 years experience was $46,058, for those with 30+ years, it was $97,715, overall average was $67,558 and the average starting pension for those retired less than a year after 30+ years of work was $70,894.  Thus, an average recently retired teacher who worked a full career (30+ years) receives more in pension than the average active teacher earns for teaching, and more than the state’s median household income.
  • Based on Taxpayers United of America (TUA), as of April 1, 2014 the top 200 Illinois public sector pensions ranged from $196,613 to $452,843.  The majority are retired from universities followed by retired K-12 Superintendents.  For instance, Dr. Catalani who retired from Wheaton-Warrenville CUSD 200 in 2007 now receives $284,674/year.  His lifetime contributions cover 2.8% of his estimated lifetime benefits.
  • As of April 1, 2014 there were 11,054 Illinois public sector pensioners collecting more than $100K per year and 78,526 pensioners collecting over $50K per year. (TUA).

Illinois Constitution

The Illinois constitution requires our state government to have a balanced budget every year.  It does allow for borrowing (for special purposes – or up to 15% of the annual budget for emergencies), yet, Illinois ended the fiscal year June 30, 2011, with over $8 billion in unpaid bills and an estimated $85 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.  Combined ($8 + $85) was almost triple the 2011 budget which was around $33 billion.

In January 2011, Illinois “temporarily” raised its state income tax 67% and its corporate income tax 45% in an effort to stabilize its finances and to pay its $8.5 billion in past due bills. Despite generating about $30 billion in increased tax revenues (2011 to 2014) at the end of 2013 the state still had about $6.7 billion in past due bills and the unfunded liabilities have grown.  The bulk of the new revenue from the increased tax rates went to state pension payments and Medicaid.

  • In FY 1995 the state contributed $519 million to pensions which was 2.9% of the $17 billion general fund.
  • In FY 2006 the state contributed $938 million to pensions which was 3.8% of the $24 billion general fund.
  • In FY 2014 state contributions will be $5.99 billion, or 17% of the $35.7 billion general fund.

We are constantly being told that the under-funding problem is due to the state (taxpayers) not paying its fair share.  However, according to actual past contributions and current projections, for the teachers’ retirement system:

  • From 1995 to 2001 taxpayers contributed 93₵ for each $1.00 of member contribution,
  • From 2002 to 2011 (last decade) taxpayers contributed $1.86 for each $1.00 of member contribution, and
  • For 2012 to 2021 (current decade) taxpayers are projected to contribute $3.39 for each $1.00 of member contribution.

It appears that the state has always put in the “normal” portion, the part to cover benefits earned during the year, but, it has not always put in enough to cover the “actuarial” portion to make up for past shortfalls.


Illinois cannot balance the budget as required by law without addressing pensions.  Legislation has already been passed to address employees hired after January 1, 2011, which will help a few decades from now.  In order to solve the current problem, existing public sector employees and retirees must be part of the solution.

Minor pension reform did pass in 2013, but is being challenged in the courts.  On a related item, the Court ruled in July 2014 that retiree healthcare could not be diminished due to Illinois’ Constitution Article XIII, Section 5:

“…Membership in any pension…shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

However, the court cannot force funding or timely payments.  Already some hospitals and doctors are rationing care for state employees because they cannot afford to be the state’s bank.  What good is insurance without access?

The Constitution is not a suicide pact.  Given enough public pressure, it can be amended to change Article XIII, Section 5.

Links to source articles

The Law:

Pension Statistics, Shortfall & Abuse:

Raw Data is Available

TRS contributions

More Information:

  • 1/30/2012, (CHICAGO) The Civic Federation’s Illinois research institute warns that Illinois could face an unprecedented $34.8 billion backlog of unpaid bills [by FY2017] if action is not taken immediately to reform Pensions and Medicaid.

Illinois actually has many public sector pension funds.  The following table summarizes the five large state wide pension funds that are in trouble financially. 

pension asset liability

  • TRS – Teachers’ Retirement System
  • SERS – State Employees’ Retirement System
  • SURS – State Universities Retirement System
  • JRS – Judges’ Retirement System
  • GARS – General Assembly Retirement System

Updated – Five largest pension funds in 2014

2014 pension unfund  February 9 memo from Executive Director, Dick Ingram, to the Teachers Retirement System Board of Directors warns that the State will be forced to not only cut from future pension funds, but also from currently retired teachers’ pensions.

Today [May 8, 2012], the combined unfunded liabilities of Chicago’s four pension funds have grown to nearly $20 billion, which doesn’t include the $6.8 billion shortfall at the teachers fund.

Absent reforms, the fund for retired city firefighters would become insolvent in nine years, according to a city report issued two years ago. The police pension would go broke four years later. All four funds would be broke by 2030.