SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) — More Illinois public employees and retirees than ever before are making over $100,000 a year.
Over the last four years, the number of Illinois public employees with salaries or retirees with pensions has made six figures or more.
That number soared from 94,000 to 133,000 public employees or retirees.
Adam Andrzejewski created openthebooks.com for taxpayers to see how much of their money is being spent on high salaries and pensions.
"If we can track where our tax dollars are going, and we can hold the political class accountable for tax and spending decisions," says Andrzejewski
After Illinois basketball coach Brad Underwood, who makes over $3 million a year, college professors, doctors, and school district superintendents make up some of the highest earners in the state.
What’s more shocking is the amount many state-funded retirees are raking in, in annual pension money.
In Springfield District 186, the top-paid employee in the district is the superintendent who makes about $224,000 a year. The next two most highly compensated are retired, the two former superintendents in Springfield. The two are retired on nearly $200,000 of retirement pension payout each year.
Several school districts are paying over a dozen employees over $100,000 in salary or pension. District 186 has 165 of those employees, many retired.
Champaign Unit 4 has 52 people.
Mahomet Seymour has 23, one of them a longtime elementary school teacher, and another a coach.
Rochester has 17, made up of mostly administrators
Ball Chatham has 19.
Ball Chatham's top three annual earners, like Springfield, include two retired superintendents.
Those are just a few examples. It is not just educators who are eligible for state pensions.
Several well-known, retired lawmakers are also making hundreds of thousands manually by collecting multiple pensions.
"Double dipping the pensions in Illinois is bipartisan, said Andrzejewski. "You have some of the biggest figures in the last 30 years double dubbing Illinois pensions up in Chicago, for example, Former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley." "He has gotten two pensions last year combined for nearly $250,00."
With the state funding pensions for public school districts and universities, state taxpayers, everybody is on the hook to guarantee those pensions.
We reached out to multiple organizations for a statement.
The Illinois Association of School Administrators sent us this statement:
Strong school districts are fundamental to the future success of our state’s children, and superintendents play a vital role in that success. Locally elected school boards determine superintendent salaries after careful consideration of what is best for their students and community. Superintendents often lead the largest workplaces in their community, oversee multi-million dollar budgets, and support hundreds, or even thousands, of students and staff. It is a vital and demanding role that requires significant talent, experience, and vision.
AFSCHME, which represents thousands of state workers, responded by saying:
The truth is that public employees like nurses, first responders, teachers, and child protection workers provide the essential services our communities rely on every day and that everyone who works for a living deserves to be fairly paid." "Of our union's more than 65,000 public employee members in Illinois, only a handful have salaries above $100,000; they tend to be professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers.
District 186 says:
Superintendent Jennifer Gill has been on contract with District 186 since 2014, her salary is commensurate with the size and scope for the system that she serves. In reference to other salaries, we cannot speak to past employees’ pensions.