This week, Governor Bruce Rauner (R) told the state public employee union AFSME, "Illinois is broke." Our data and analysis at OpenTheBooks.com shows he’s right. There are 50,000 public employees earning six-figure salaries who cost Illinois taxpayers $8 billion a year.
Here are a few examples of what you’ll uncover
by zip code:
- 18,900 teachers and school administrators – including $503,200 for Mohsin Dada, an administrator at North Shore School District 112 who earned $248,510 salary, plus a teacher’s retirement pension of $254,700 (ZIP – 60035).
- 9,000 college and university employees – including Dr. Fady Toufic Charbel at the University of Illinois at Chicago who earned $1.38 million (ZIP – 60601).
- 8,838 State of Illinois employees – including Steven Valasek, a $218,519 ‘contractual worker’ employed by Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger (R) (ZIP – 62704).
- 5,122 small-town city and village employees – including 72 municipal managers who out-earn every governor of the 50 states at $180,000 per year.
- 5,007 City of Chicago rank-and-file managers and workers – including $216,000 for embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D).
In total, there’s roughly $9.3 billion in total compensation flowing to highly-compensated government workers when counting 7,637 federal employees based in Illinois with six-figure salaries.
So, who are the biggest culprits in conferring six-figure salaries? We ranked the fourteen largest public pay and pension systems in Illinois:
Illinois’ largest ‘Big Dog’ pay and pension systems conferring $100,000 public salaries
The stories of taxpayer abuse seem endless.
Ex-lawmakers are double dipping the system. Former state representative Roger Eddy now makes $322,200 – that’s $291,725 as Executive Director of Illinois Association of School Boards and $30,500 from his lawmaker’s pension (ZIP – 62703). Then there’s former governor Jim Edgar (R) who took $2.25 million in salary from the University of Illinois between 2000-2013 while also receiving more than $2 million in pension from a two-term stint as governor.
Suburban schools are spiking salaries, which only encourages others to salary-spike. For example, there are 1,170 educators with $100,000 salaries in just two of 900 school districts: Township High School District 214 and Palatine Township High School 211. Of course, this incentivizes the Chicago Teacher’s Union to strike for even higher salaries (1,100 six-figure salaries).
County bosses are getting in on the action. In just three of the 102 counties (DuPage, Lake and Will), 707 employees earned $100,000 last year. Lake won top honors with 265 employees in six-figures. In DuPage, the ‘Chief of Staff’ to Chairman Dan Cronin (R) made $201,599.
Even ‘water district’ employees are into the taxpayer largess with nearly 1,000 employees making $100,000 . Across Illinois, 326 highly compensated ‘park district’ employees make over $100,000. Then there’s the powerful Illinois Municipal League (IML) with seven employees picking up $1.2 million. IML hasn’t filed
an IRS income tax return since 1979.
Top cop, Attorney General Lisa Madigan has 829 employees on staff, but can’t seem to find
public corruption anywhere. On her own staff, Madigan designs ‘golden parachutes’ for key hires:
Ronald Yawger was the Chicago Police (CPD) investigator who "missed" key evidence linking a then-Mayor Richard J. Daley nephew to the punch that killed young David Koschman outside a city bar. In 2007, Yawger retired at CPD – but was immediately rehired by Lisa Madigan
as a Special Investigator. Since 2008, Yawger’s pay spiked from $53,195 to $119,745 (2013). Including his $77,000 CPD pension, Yawger now out-earns every employee in the Attorney General’s office.
Illinois, like many states, is in trouble.
Illinois has 1 million public employees either active (650,000) or retired (350,000 receiving a pension check). Yet, there’s only 6.2 million total jobs. Therefore, roughly one of every six ‘paychecks’ goes to a government employee or retiree.
Many of these public employees are funded by property taxes, which are the highest in the nation. Last year, at Forbes, I wrote
about the property tax minimization strategy, the "Shouse" – Tiny House – Movement.
Conclusion: Illinois is broke. Governor Rauner was right. Yet, he just hired a personal assistant for his wife – who has no official state duties – for $100,000 a year at taxpayer expense. Yep, it’s Illinois.
Adam Andrzejewski is CEO of OpenTheBooks.com – the world’s largest private repository of publicly accessible government spending.