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Tax fighter to taxpayers: You’re paying for pensions

National Taxpayers United of Illinois Director Jim Tobin speaks at McHenry County College on Wednesday, presenting a list of county residents raking in the highest public-employee pensions.
National Taxpayers United of Illinois Director Jim Tobin speaks at McHenry County College on Wednesday, presenting a list of county residents raking in the highest public-employee pensions.

CRYSTAL LAKE – A longtime tax fighter said that McHenry County residents had “lavish” public-sector pensions to blame for the massive income-tax increase befalling them.

National Taxpayers United of Illinois President Jim Tobin came to McHenry County College on Wednesday to hand out lists of the top public pension recipients living in the county.

Overly generous pension benefits, and the $83 billion liability that come with them, are the real reason why a lame-duck General Assembly rammed through a tax increase, Tobin said.

“We want to let people know where their money is going; a lot of it will go to these pension millionaires,” Tobin said.

Tobin said his goal of presenting such information to as many counties and municipalities as he could had a second objective – to rally taxpayers when lawmakers in four years inevitably go back on their promise that the increases will be reduced.

The legislation approved early Wednesday will increase income taxes 66 percent on Illinois residents, raising the rate from 3 percent to 5 percent. A taxpayer who owes $1,000 in state income tax will pay $1,666 at the new rate. After four years, the rate is supposed to drop to 4 percent.

The corporate tax on businesses will increase about 46 percent, from 4.8 percent to 7 percent. Factoring in the 2.5 percent personal property replacement tax will put business’ state tax burden at 9.5 percent. The rate is supposed to drop to 5.2 percent in four years.

Tobin released lists of the top 100 county recipients of pensions from the Teacher Retirement System, General Assembly Retirement System, and the top 25 MCC staffers who collect from the State University Retirement System.

Many of the names he presented were reported last month in a Northwest Herald investigative series regarding the deep problems with the five state-run pension systems. The newspaper acquired the data through Freedom of Information Act requests to state and local government.

Topping the list for public schools was retired District 155 Superintendent Joe Saban, who collects $168,121. But if Carpentersville District 300 is included, which covers parts of McHenry County, former Superintendent Norm Wetzel collects the highest pension at $212,651. Wetzel placed 45th on the institute’s top 100 pension collectors throughout all five systems.

At the top for MCC is retired professor Carol Chandler, who receives $105,112 a year. The list did not include ousted former President Walt Packard, who receives an annual pension of $136,102, according to SURS.

More than 4,000 retired government employees collect six-figure pensions, Tobin said. The highest-paid, former medical professor, Dr. Tapas Gupta, collects $402,418 a year from SURS – or $2,418 more than President Obama’s salary.

Without major and meaningful reform, Tobin said, and taxpayer revolts against the majority Democratic Party in future elections, Springfield will be asking taxpayers for more and more.

“Almost all of this money will go to salaries and pensions to perpetuate the tax monster,” Tobin said. “And there’s no end in sight.”

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