Hope for Illinois Pension Reform

“The U.S. Supreme Court and virtually all state courts have recognized that the police powers of a government to impair contractual obligations for a higher public good, the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and its continued financial survival, cannot be waived, divested, surrendered, or bargained away.”

“Illinois was the last of the four states not permitting public pension reforms. In a series of Illinois Supreme Court decisions in 2014, 2015 and 2016, Illinois stood singularly against any modification of public pension benefits that would diminish or impair benefits of current employees and retirees. == we need to change that! Illinois must reform to remain a functioning state.”



Rhode Island Supreme Court Shows Illinois The Way On Pension Reform

From Wirepoints, June 12, 2019 “What’s clear is that, contrary to persistent claims by public unions, the Contract Clause and the rest of the United States Constitution do not spell doom for addressing our pension crisis through a constitutional amendment. Rhode Island indicates it would work.”
Read the full article: https://wirepoints.org/rhode-island-supreme-court-shows-illinois-the-way-on-pension-reform/

TUA’s 12th Annual Illinois Pension Report


Taxpayers United of America (TUA) / Taxpayer Education Foundation have posted the 2018 Pension reports For Illinois

19,481 pensioners are receiving over $100K per year.

see the 12th Annual Illinois Pension Report:


It has links to the top 200 pensions for each of the statewide pension funds.

SURS (State university Retirement System) has
2 receiving over $500,000 per year,
7 receiving between $400,000 and $499,999
25 receiving between $300,000 and $399,999
and the remainder of the top 200, at least
166 receiving between $200,000 and $299,999

For the vast majority, their lifetime contribution covers less than 10% of their estimated lifetime benefits.

For TRS (Teachers’ Retirement System)
the top 200 annual payouts range from $331,087 to $197,787.
Number 3 on the list is Gary T Catalani, Community Unit SD 200.  He is pulling in $320,403 this year.


Dr. Catalani retired June, 2007 the district is still paying his Family Medical / Family Dental and will continue to do so until 2/1/2021.
In 2004 when Dr. Catalni announced he would be retiring in 3 years, he was earning $232,511.
in 2005 after the first of his 20% end-of-career-salary-spikes he was earning $311,075
When he retired at age 56, he had 33 years of experience.  He will soon have collected more in pension than he did for working.

Pension recipients should want to fix pensions

top all

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:  Bureauhttps://www.census.gov/quickfacts/IL

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 openthebooks.com
The inflation calculator is usinflationcalculator.com/ (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.    taxpayersunitedofamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/Binder1.pdf

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:   BoardOfEducation@d211.org