U.S. Senator Tom Coburn | March 11, 2014
"Open the Books is doing the work I envisioned when the Coburn-Obama bill became law. Their innovative app and other tools are putting sunlight through a magnifying glass."
An America where any citizen can easily find virtually all information regarding how their Federal, State, and Local governments spend the taxpayers’ money.
Our mission is to place "every dime online" of all government spending – Federal, State and Local – in an easy to access manner, empowering citizens to expose and curtail wasteful practices and ensure the more efficient allocation of government resources.
HOW TO USE THIS REPORT
Citizens need to engage with elected officials- start asking questions and demanding answers.
You can not complain about Washington, D.C. or your state capitol if you do not take the time to hold your local units of government accountable for their tax and spend decisions. Please use this report as a starting point to begin the process of asking questions and demanding answers of your elected officials. To learn more, go to our website at www.openthebooks.com, or download our award winning mobile app, Open The Books- free for Apple & Droid.
OpenTheBooks.com is the education project of American Transparency- a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 organization. The mission and vision follow the promise of founder Adam Andrzejewski’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign pledge to post "Every Dime. Online. In Real Time. " Today, over 1.1 billion lines of public spending are posted from the federal, state and local level across America. The Wall Street Journal published Andrzejewski’s editorial "Track Government Spending on Your Phone. " Andrzejewski appeared on John Stossel’s special Innovation Nation 2013 and FOX’s The Independent’s , and his work published in USA Today, Investor’s Business Daily, HBO’s Bill Maher blog, Forbes, National Review, Washington Examiner, Washington Times, Sunlight Foundation, Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald & many others.
Using public data released under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, all disclosed pensionable salaries, retirement annuities, and vendor spending are ranked and quantified by school district (ex. Chicago Public Schools).
With a couple clicks at OpenTheBooks.com- a local resident, competitive business, candidate challenging the incumbent class, or an activist can download a quick snap shot PDF report that answers the key question in public policy, "How much does my government cost?", and "Is there indications of waste, fraud, corruption or abuse?"
At OpenTheBooks.com, download a SNAPSHOT™ Spending Report for each of these 928 school districts for free. Click here, register with your email & ZIP code:
- 5,930 retired educators have $100,000 annual pensions. Collectively, their annual payments nearly equaled three quarters of a billion dollars: $700.3 million. In 2014, the number of six figure pensions increased by 24.4% from 4,767 (2013).
- 100,846 retired educators on average "broke even" their cost basis in 20 months. In other words, retired educators were "paid back" what they had personally invested in their pension plans within the first 20 months of retirement.
- The TOP 100 All-Time "Educator" Pensions range from Lawrence Wyllie (Lincoln Way CHSD210) at $289,000 to James Cunneen (JS Morton HSD201) at $190,998. https://www.openthebooks.com/search/?PensionCode=23&perpage=100
- The TOP 3 school districts awarding the most six figure pensions are Palatine District 211 (343 retirees), Township High School District 214 (Arlington Heights) (252 retirees), and Northfield High School District 225 (North Shore) (131 retirees). Click here for an interactive "heat map" of six figure educator pensions:
PENSION ABUSE SOLUTION: Hinsdale District 86 school board put a "stop pension spiking" referendum on the November 4, 2014 ballot. Voters in one of the wealthiest districts in Illinois will get an up or down vote whether or not the board should continue the practice of 24% salary spikes in the final four career years.
- 16,257 of 162,960 active educators earn over $100,000 per year. Collectively, these highly compensated employees cost $1.977 billion at taxpayer expense. The most highly compensated 406 administrators out-earned 49/ 50 governors ($179,000). In the last five years, the number of employees earning a six figure salary increased by 69.5%!
- 2012 is the latest salary year available from Teachers Retirement System (TRS). In prior years, salary data was available by June 1st. TRS now says 2013 salaries will not be available until October 15, 2014- only two weeks before the Nov 4 election.
- Of the 928 school districts contained in the report, inflation outpaced salaries in 439 districts, while in 481 districts salaries outpaced inflation. Big Hollow School District 38 near Lakemoor and Oswego CUSD 308 had the largest salary increases- outpacing inflation by 348%. In part, large in-district population increases drove increased total salary growth as schools expanded.
SALARY CASE EXAMPLE: Since Spring, the teachers union at Hinsdale High School District 86 has been threatening a strike. The union proposed a 5.4% salary increase. The new majority board ran on a property tax freeze and has proposed a 1.7% increase. Data within our Local Spending Report shows that D86 salaries have outpaced CPI inflation by 76% since 2001. With an average salary of over $111,000, the teachers at Hinsdale out-earn the average educator salary at the flagship state university, University of Illinois at Champaign by over $10,000!
SALARY CASE EXAMPLE: At Butler SD53 in Oak Brook- a one school elementary district- the superintendent Sandra Renner made $288,240 (2012). In 2001, Renner earned $138,161. Renner then retired on a starting pension of $210,480 and is the 50th highest pension in TRS history. Individually, Renner’s pension is higher than all but 5 of her active salary years.
- Nearly $36 billion in disclosed spending was aggregated and delineated by school district covering the years 2011, 2012, and 2013. The top vendor industries were banks, busing companies, construction companies, health insurance, and food service providers.
- 115,936 individual vendors served Illinois education in 2013.
- In 2013, nearly $40,000,000 was paid out to various forms of union representation within Illinois education. Groups affiliated with the Illinois Education Association/National Education Association ($25.99 million), AFSME/SEIU/Federations/Unions/Locals were paid out another $13.442 million.
- Another egregious example of vendor spending continues to be the tens of millions spent on taxi cabs. In 2013, over $11.1 million was spent on taxi cabs with over $71,000,000 in payments since 2006. In 2012, we found that 47 Northern Illinois school districts didn’t follow bid- contracting requirements and an NBC5 investigation discovered 1 in 10 drivers of the school taxi cabs had an arrest record.
- At least $55,000,000 million was paid out to "consultants" by Illinois school districts in the year 2013. With over 16,000 administrators and educators earning a six-figure salary, why were so many extra experts needed?
- The depth of our data lends insight into exactly where taxpayer money is being spent: $3.831 million on hotel rooms in the finest resorts and destinations across America in 2013. A search for "Marriott" and "Hyatt" rendered $1,254,078; but, only $1,359 for Red Roof Inn & $16,405 for Super 8/Motel 6.
- $6.85 million flowed into the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB). As a private organization that advocates constriction of the Freedom of Information Act and higher property, sales, and income taxes, IASB has been ensconced by legislation as the mandatory trainer of all elected school board officials. As a former state legislator, Executive Director Roger Eddy authored that law.
- Illinois school districts are certainly brand loyal to made-in-America when it comes to vehicle purchases and repairs at dealerships: Chevrolet ($4.032 million), Ford ($3.631 million), Nissan ($54,000), and Toyota ($34,000)
METHODOLGY & RESEARCH:
, 1.1 billion lines of local, state and federal government transactions since 2000-2001 are compiled in our data commons. Using search tools and data mapping to run queries directly against the spending data, we quantified the salaries, pensions and vendor spending. Once a raw database was assembled, pivot tables and filters were used to organize the data. In drafting the Report, it was important to showcase the deep level of detail contained in our data at www.openthebooks.com
. Some spending examples in the text highlight taxpayer abuse. We have seldom drawn conclusions, but pointed out facts.
Now, citizens need to engage with their local elected officials.
Our Information Technology team at OpenTheBooks.com requested the data, searched, built, and organized the databases. Adam Andrzejewski, founder of OpenTheBooks.com provided data interpretation, gave context and authored this executive summary.
This report quantifies hundreds of thousands of state and local transactions compiled at www.openthebooks.com as a result of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. To the extent that the government makes mistakes in the reporting of inaccurate or incomplete data, our report will reflect these same mistakes.
CITIZEN SEARCH TOOLS:
1. SNAPSHOT™ SPENDING REPORT for each of these 928 school districts- download for free. Click here, register with your email and ZIP code:
2. Award Winning Mobile App- Open The Books, free for Apple & Droid
3. Share our Open The Books Website Search Tool- WIDGET
See it all for yourself.