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


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.”