An audit of Illinois public employee salaries and pensions found a staggering number of employees were in the six-figure club.
The nonprofit government watchdog organization OpenTheBooks.com found educators, city managers, bus drivers and even barbers were pulling in more than $100,000 a year. A total of 132,188 public employees made six-figure salaries, costing taxpayers $17 billion.
“Six-figure public employees skyrocketed from 94,000 in 2018 to just shy of 133,000 in 2021, so there is a new minimum wage for government work in Illinois and it's $100,000-plus,” said OpenTheBooks founder and CEO Adam Andrzejewski.
The audit found that nearly 500 educators in public schools earned salaries between $200,000 and $439,000. Several superintendents of school districts are pulling down more than $350,000 a year, including Edward Mansfield, the head of the Homewood Flossmoor school district, who made over $434,000 in 2021.
Eighteen retired school superintendents received $300,000 in retirement pensions, including Lawrence Wyllie from Lincoln-Way school district, who made $361,787.
City managers in Illinois made more money than all 50 governors. The city managers of Rolling Meadows and Evanston, and the village managers of Grayslake and Palatine all made more than $300,000 last year.
Andrzejewski said the startling figures are another reason Amendment One should be defeated in the Illinois statewide election.
“Amendment One would enshrine public sector unions with very aggressive negotiating advantages, for higher salaries, more perks and constitutionally-backed pension mandates,” Andrzejewski said. “Public sector employees, they don’t need any further help, they are living the good life right now.”
The audit notes that there are several legal loopholes for individuals to access state funding through private associations, nonprofits and state legislative bodies.
Retired Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley double-dipped pension systems for nearly $250,000. Daley made $158,076 per year in pension payouts after an 8-year career as a state senator, plus another $91,560 per year in city pension payouts for his 22 years as mayor.
Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar double-dipped pension systems, taking in a General Assembly pension of $186,660 and a University Retirement System pension of over $90,000.
“The sheer growth and cost of the public sector is crushing private sector families of Illinois,” said Andrzejewski. “Public employees are not only taking advantage of Illinois taxpayers, they are literally ripping you off.”