A Libertarian organization in Illinois is taking aim at government pensions and is signaling out Kankakee County, particularly its retired educators, noting that more than 1,000 retirees here are collecting multimillion payouts.
Taxpayers United of America released its report today, focusing on Kankakee County retirees, basing its projections on an average lifespan of 85 years.
"While taxpayers struggle to make their property tax payments, working well beyond retirement age, these government pensioners enjoy lavish, gold-plated retirements beginning, on average, at the age of 58," said report author Jim Tobin.
The report looked at pensions within Kankakee Community College, Kankakee area schools and Kankakee County government.
According to the report, the area's largest annual pension — $151,441 — belongs to a former school superintendent in eastern Kankakee County. Based on life expediency, this person will collect $4.4 million.
The pensions of several former school superintendents are among the highest with pensions ranging from $151,441 to $122,483.
There is another pension for a former career PE teacher at just more than $102,000 annually or $2.4 million throughout his life. A former top KCC administrator is collecting just less than $135,000 annually. Several retired county law enforcement officials are drawing pensions ranging from the low $80,000 to the mid $50,000.
Tobin called these pensions as both immoral and unethical.
"This is not a retirement system for poor public servants. This system will grind to a halt as more and more of these people retire and draw from it," he said. "This system cannot continue. Our system will collapse if this continues."
According to Tobin's research, there now are 12,154 annual Illinois government pensions greater than $100,000. There are 85,893 annual pensions that exceed $50,000.
"Those are staggering numbers considering the taxpayers who fund these pensions get an average Social Security pension of about $15,000 a year," he said.
What is even more shocking, Tobin said, is how little the employee puts into their own fund. He said the top superintendent will have contributed just 5.3 percent toward the total payout. The P.E. teacher? 7.6 percent. The KCC administrator just 3.6 percent.
So, what should be done? After all, these are the pensions that taxpayers agreed to, even if unwittingly.
Tobin said these employees should do what most private sector workers do, invest their own money into their own retirement account, such as a 401k.
"You and your employer should be funding your retirement account. It's not for you to live 'The Life of Reilly' thanks to the taxpayers. People are getting fed up with this," he said.
He said meaningful reforms must be taken.
"... Residents of Kankakee and nearly every other city in Illinois will have to choose between fulling funding the pension systems to pay for the services provided in the past, or pay for the services we need today," he said.
Tobin helped found the TUA in 1976. He started his career as a Federal Reserve Bank examiner. He was one of the first economic experts to predict the collapse of Continental Bank.