Pension Winners in the General Assembly Retirement System

Jim Tobin’s National Taxpayers United of Illinois has revealed the top 50 pensions for the General Assembly Retirement Fund.

It doesn’t have many pensioners, but the legislative retirement fund has some big payouts.

Part of the reason is that statewide elected officials can opt in.

While he was in office, for instance, Governor Jim Thompson announced that he would be in the same pension fund that regular state employees paid into.  Right before leaving office that changed.  He transferred his pension credits to the GA Retirement System.

Indeed many of the largest pensions you see below are the result of an ex-legislator getting a well-paying job for a while and transferring in the pension credits in their new public pension fund back to the more lucrative legislative system.

Tobin’s press release follows:


CHICAGO–Jim Tobin, President of National Taxpayers United of Illinois (NTUI), today released the latest pension study of pension researcher Bill Zettler: the Top Fifty pensions received by former members of the Illinois General Assembly.

“Governor Quinn and the lame duck General Assembly are desperate to increase tax revenues any way they can to ensure that these outrageous, lavish pensions are available to themselves when they retire.

“Under the current pension program, General Assembly members are guaranteed to be millionaires if they can collect for only eight to ten years.  Protecting this rite of passage has become their highest priority, despite the terrible financial situation in which most Illinoisans find themselves.

“Under the guise of securing the financial future of the Illinois general fund, Quinn and his conspirators are trying to push any tax increases that they can.”

“If Quinn can’t get HB 174 with the 67% income tax increase through the house, he will push to get a 33% income tax increase passed.

“At the same time, there are efforts to increase the gasoline tax by an unknown amount, the cigarette tax by $1 per pack, and a new 7-10% sales tax on 39 services.

“The primary objective is to pump 15 billion taxpayer dollars out of taxpayer pockets and into the pension and payroll funds of the robber barons that are bankrupting the great state of Illinois, not to secure the financial future as they would have us believe.”

“Do you recognize any of these pension millionaires? Figures are as of 10/1/2010.  A complete list can be viewed at
Mo. Pension         Yearly Pension         Total Pension Paid So Far
Arthur Berman                     $16,459               $197,503           $1,449,640
Judy Barr Topinka              $12,144                 $145,727            $402,229
Jim Edgar                           $10,910                 $130,925             $1,106,372
James R. Thompson           $10,601                 $127,215             $1,547,836
James “Pate” Philip             $10,551                 $126,615             $713,029
Dawn Clark Netsch             $10,143                 $121,720             $1,476,711
Walter Dudycz                     $7,661                 $91,937                $449,128

“Jim Edgar and James R. Thompson engineered the largest tax increases ever passed in Illinois. Arthur Berman was the author of the Berman Tax Increase Amendment. Dawn Clark Netsch never met a tax she didn’t like.”

“I urge members of the Illinois General Assembly to vote in the interest of the constituents they serve and not their own best interest.”

Top 50 General Assembly Pensions as of 10/1/2010

NAME Mo. Pension Yearly Pension Years Credit NAME Mo. Pension Yearly Pension Years Credit

BERMAN, ARTHUR 16,459 197,503 31 KEANE, JAMES 8,596 103,157 20
TOPINKA, JUDY 12,144 145,727 26 STECZO, TERRY 8,357 100,284 18
ERWIN, JUDITH 11,790 141,476 20 PARCELLS, MARGARET 8,317 99,809 19
FRIEDLAND, JOHN 11,379 136,553 25 WOJCIK, KATHLEEN 8,080 96,959 31
EDGAR, JAMES 10,910 130,925 20 SCHAFFER, JACK 8,011 96,126 24
THOMPSON, JAMES 10,601 127,215 20 NOVAK, JOHN 7,983 95,795 20
PETKA, EDWARD 10,583 126,992 30 WINCHESTER, ROBERT 7,899 94,783 20
PHILIP, JAMES 10,551 126,615 36 BRESLIN, PEG 7,869 94,430 16
BURRIS, ROLAND 10,450 125,400 20 WEAVER, MICHAEL 7,816 93,792 19
JONES JR, EMIL 10,195 122,334 36 HALLOCK, JOHN 7,801 93,615 20
NETSCH, DAWN 10,143 121,720 22 DUDYCZ, WALTER 7,661 91,937 25
HOMER, THOMAS 10,002 120,021 19 JACOBS, DENNIS 7,617 91,404 28
HAWKINSON, CARL 9,447 113,367 26 PETERSON, WILLIAM 7,584 91,007 26
DEGNAN, TIMOTHY 9,346 112,152 20 FAWELL, BEVERLY 7,543 90,521 19
BOWMAN, H 9,340 112,085 20 MAITLAND JR, JOHN 7,530 90,355 23
GRANBERG, KURT 9,310 111,716 22 MAROVITZ, WILLIAM 7,419 89,029 18
KARPIEL, DORIS 9,242 110,906 23 SMITH, IRVIN 7,381 88,568 20
MCGREW, SAMUEL 9,201 110,407 20 MEYER, JOHN 7,365 88,381 16
MOLARO, ROBERT 9,067 108,810 16 MOORE, DON 7,354 88,249 18
DANIELS, LEE 8,944 107,333 32 WOOLARD, LARRY 7,309 87,703 19
RYDER, WILLIAM 8,909 106,903 20 KUBIK, JACK 7,288 87,450 14
HARTKE, CHARLES 8,873 106,474 20 RONEN, CAROL 7,276 87,316 15
KUSTRA, ROBERT 8,824 105,893 18 HARTIGAN, NEIL 7,275 87,295 12
WATSON, FRANK 8,777 105,321 30 SIEBEN, TODD 7,152 85,828 23
CAPPARELLI, RALPH 8,604 103,247 34 ODANIEL, WILLIAM 7,079 84,948 24
Compiled by Bill Zettler    Published by Illinois Taxpayers Education Foundation    (312)427-0087

How do legislators manage to hike their pensions so much?

Some get a short-term position paying a lot more than they received in their last year as a state legislator. Former State Senator John Friedland, for example, was hired as a lobbyist by the Elgin Sanitary District for a couple of months as a hefty salary. That boosted his base salary.

Add three percent extra each year, which all on public pensions in Illinois receive and it mounts up over time.

Others like Terry Stezco lose an election and get a well-paying local governmental job. In his case, Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan hired him.

Others get appointed to head state departments. Chuck Hartke, for instance, was appointed Director of the Department of Agriculture.

All can transfer pension credits from the new pension system and their final salaries–upon which their pension is based–back into the General Assembly Retirement System.


Pension Winners in the General Assembly Retirement System — 14 Comments

  1. Less than 20 years of actual work and over a $130,000 a year pension for Jim Edgar.

    No wonder he always is smiling.

    Cal, will Judy Topinka collect a full pension while having a full time State job?

  2. Cal, how much do you collect from the state with YOUR pension?

  3. It is surreal that even though the state pays its bills 6 months – 1 year late, it can’t eliminate, change, or suspend the 3% cost of living increase for its pensions. Who the heck ever heard of getting a raise when you don’t have to do anything and the economy is in shambles. I guess the taxpayers don’t complain to their state representative and senator enough.

    So in addition to shoring up my retirement account, which is risk based, I can give increases to defined benefit public pensions.

    Not to take money away from you Cal. It seems you got stiffed in your pension. But in real world outside of Illinois Public Pensions, yours seems pretty decent.

  4. Its interesting that those who are complaining about my pension are getting their pension.

    Even though I pay 8.5% into it and pay into Social Security and won’t see any of that either.

    What a Ponzie scheme.

    Can you highlite the Dems.

    I thnk the leaders should lead by example and cut their pay first.

    Judy must not make enough on her retirement.

  5. Cal, I thought that I read one time that Emil Jones receives over $200,000.00 a year in pension money. Do you know the other pensions and amounts he receives from them? I thought that he worked for the City of Chicago and was receivng IMRF money. Are the state pensions part of IMRF or are they on their own?

  6. Are these state legislators jobs really full time? I thought that most of these people kept their regular job or still had their own companies.

  7. So Cal is posting these pensions, which are high but he is collecting 76 thousand to sit at home and write a blog?

  8. As a former state worker (a lowly staffer), barely able to eek out a living on my very small pension, I so resent the big pensions of former members of the General Assembly.

    What is particularly galling is that the public thinks that ALL state workers are receiving these huge pensions. In reality, it is the politicians that scream the loudest about taxes that are raking in these exhorbatant amounts. When the pensions are cut on regular workers, due to the outcry from a misinformed public, the politicians will still get their lucrative salaries and pensions. It’s the way the system is set-up.

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