Evanston’s new state representative holds a community forum Thursday night at which the guest speaker will be from a group that thinks Illinois residents are under-taxed.

Gabel, Hamos and Suffredin (handout photo)

Evanston’s new state representative holds a community forum Thursday night at which the guest speaker will be from a group that thinks Illinois residents are under-taxed.

Gabel, Hamos and Suffredin (handout photo)

State Rep. Robyn Gabel, appointed to her post in April after winning the Democratic primary, is organizing the event at 6:30 p.m. at the Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave.

She’ll be joined by her predecessor as state representative, Julie Hamos, who now heads the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, as well as what’s being called “a special guest” from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability to discuss the state pension crisis.

That’s the group that earlier this year issued a report saying Illinois ranks 43rd in the nation in the share of its gross domestic product that it devotes to state general fund spending.

Jim Young, a former member of Evanston’s blue ribbon pension panel, told Evanston Now Tuesday that the group’s conclusion doesn’t seem to make sense.

“When I look at taxes in Illinois — sales taxes, real estate taxes, the income tax and so forth — logically it doesn’t make sense that Illinois is a low-tax state,” Young said.

An analysis by the Washington-based Tax Foundation shows that while Illinois ranks in the middle of the pack in state income tax collections per capita, it is one of the highest-cost states in the nation for property taxes, ranking 9th among the states in 2007, and ranked sixth in the nation for sales tax rates last year.

Young says there probably is some need to increase the state’s income tax to deal with its pension crisis, but that he’s adamantly opposed to the rich benefit levels of the current state pension system, and that he sees little evidence of serious efforts to solve the problem in Springfield.

The New York Times this morning reports on one innovative strategy to try to ease a state’s pension crisis. Maine is considering changing the rules so its state workers would be covered by Social Security. Maine is one of nine state that, like Illinois, have chosen to exclude many of its employees from the federal program.

The Times says that the initial cost of the shift would be high, but it would provide benefit portability for employees and a stake in a pension program that, compared to most state funds, is relatively well managed.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Fund for politicians to donate extra taxes

    There must be an account in the State, County and City budget where Gabel, Hamos and Suffredin and all those who feel we are under-taxed to make a deposit of all the taxes they think they should have paid.  No need to wait for laws to change, if they think they should have paid higher taxes, they are free to do so—just don’t burden everyone else.  

    I’m sure they feel  the higher taxes are the "moral thing to have" so they should not claim they should not have to pay the extra just because everyone else is not yet.

    Come on Gabel, Hamos,Suffredin and all the others who believe more taxes will help the economy, step-up and show us—maybe kick-in even more for all those who will be put out of work by higher taxes.  Heaven knows  Evanston is taxed to death—maybe the death of the city.  Homeowners have walked away from their houses because of mortgage payments, maybe Gabel, Hamos and Suffredin can start a similar wave out of Evanston and Illinois from taxes.

    Certainly they won’t reduce the budget items that help get them elected.

  2. Don’t be fooled – Illinois is a tremendously high tax state

    A simplistic model, but a simple comparison between two cities I’ve lived in.

    Evanston, Illinois: 2.9% Income tax, 1.7% property tax, 10% sales tax

    Fairfax, Virginia: 5.75% income tax over $17,000 (sliding scale below that), ~0.88% property tax, 6% sales tax

    Assumptions: $500,000 home, $100,000/year net taxable income, $20,000 in sales-taxable expenses.

    Evanston: $2,900 + $8,500 + $2,000 = $13,400

    Fairfax: $5,000 + $4,400 + $1,200 = $10,600

    Difference: $2,800 more in Evanston.

  3. The unelected Gabel comedy show should be a taxing event

    So the unelected State Rep. Robyn Gabel has organized an event to tell us that we are undertaxed.

    I laughed out loud so hard when I read that my kids wanted to know what was so funny. So I told them some people think I’m not paying them enough money. My young’ens said those people were bad and should go to jail.

    Kids these days.

    This is the same Gabel who is running unopposed and is campaigning to raise taxes. The same Democrat and union-supported Gabel who is fighting to keep Libertarian candidate Steve Funk off the ballot despite Funk collecting more than 3300 signatures, only needing 2500.

    And to make Gabel’s event fun-filled she’s invited Julie Hamos who didn’t finish out her term as State Rep., forsaking the voters’ will, but instead accepted a cushy $100,000 job in the Quinn administration.

    And then there’s Larry Suffredin who while on the Cook County Board voted for Todd Stroger and the Democrats’ sales tax hike. In case if anyone was wondering, the Cook County sales tax of more than 10 percent is the highest in the nation.  I suppose Suffredin, who is running for judge, thinks the sales tax is not high enough since we are undertaxed.

    Homeowners lost a lot of equity in the past several years but their property taxes did not reflect that loss. In some cases, property taxes have gone up and a few others others have remained the same or dropped a teeny weeny little bit. 

    Where are the Chris Christie’s of our community? Please step forward. The time is ripe for change.

    Yes we can!


  4. What Does Evanston Spend on Pensions?

     I asked Anita Patel, the Management Analyst for the city of Evanston. It sounds to me like retirement ages could be raised instead of raising taxes. Do people really have to retire at 50 or 55? Here’s what she said:



    • Police Pension – This is for all sworn police officers.  Police contribute 9.91% of their pay to their pension fund and the City of Evanston’s annual contribution amount varies depending on what is determined by an actuary.  It takes 8 years of service for a police officer to become vested in the pension fund.  A police officer can retire after he/she has reached the age of 50 AND has at least 20 years of service.  At that time, the officer will have a pension of 50% of their final salary with 3% annual increases for as long as the retired police officer lives.  However, if the police officer works longer than 20 years, his/her pension will increase by 2.5% for each additional year of service through 30 years of service.  The maximum pension a police officer can receive will be after 30 years of service and the pension will be 75% of the final salary.  A police officer can work longer than 30 years but their pension will not increase more than 75% of their final salary.
    • Fire Pension – The terms of fire pension are the same as police pension except for one issue – firefighters contribute 9.455% of their salary to their pension fund.  All sworn firefighters participate in the fire pension fund.
    • IMRF – IMRF stands for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.  IMRF is a state-wide pension system but it is not controlled by the State of Illinois.  All municipal employees that are not covered by another pension plan and that work more than 1,000 hours per year participate in IMRF.  Employees contribute 4.5% of their salary to IMRF and the City of Evanston’s annual contribution rate varies depending on what is determined by IMRF.  It takes 8 years of service for an employee to become vested in IMRF.  An employee can retire after he/she has reached the age of 55 and is vested.  Employees earn 1.67% of their “final rate of earnings” for each of their first 15 years of service (total of 25%) plus 2% of their “final rate of earnings” for each year in excess of 15 years.  However, employees cannot earn more than a 75% pension (this takes 40 years of service).  “Final rate of earnings” are a member’s highest total earnings during any 48 consecutive months within the member’s last 10 years of IMRF service divided by 48. Usually, this is the average of the last 48 months of service. However, the earnings considered for each of the last three months cannot be more than 25 percent greater than the highest earnings in any of the first 45 months of the 48 consecutive months.  IMRF retirees will receive a 3% annual increase that is based on their original pension amount, NOT the current pension amount.




    1. They can’t help themselves–given their knowledge of the economy

        It is not surpising that these people think they need to raise taxes.  It follows along with the Obama and liberal view of work and jobs:

          Create a subsidy to hire workers

           Get two people to apply for subsidies ‘as employers’

           Person 1 hires person 2 to dig a pit in his [person 1] yard and then fill it in.

           Person 2 hires person 1 to did a pit in his yard [person 2] and then fill it in.

           Two jobs are created !

           Now they are two employers [employees] without work.

           Then they can apply for unemployment or as a distressed employer and get a government grant to get them back on their feet.



  5. Slanted

    Okay, I get it. You want to get clicks on your story and you’re trying to draw viewers eyes’ further down the page. You need to write a punchy story and are on deadline. I completely understand.

    But  unnecessarily riling up anti-tax sentiment? I think you could do better.

    If the conversation at the forum is about the current fiscal deficit the state faces and possible, plausible solutions to it, why as a journalist would you want to create hostility to the speaker before it begins?

    1. Pension expert?

      1. A political candidate brings in a speaker as a "pension expert" whose organizational website currently lists not a single document with the word "pension" in the title in its "new publications" list, but  that published two months ago a report calling Illinois "one of the lowest spending states in the nation" that conveniently ignores our high property tax and sales tax burdens.

      2. Said candidate has publicly advocated raising the state income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.

      What do you think this speaker is going to propose as the solution to our pension crisis?

      — Bill

  6. Balance the Budget

    It amazes me how politicians have all kinds of ideas about everything except how to balance the budget.   The first step towards a balanced government budget is to move to a 401k.  At least that way government agencies know what the pension will cost them.   

    I would much prefer elected officials and candidates giving a talk on moving to 401ks, not raising taxes.

  7. From what I have seen this is

    From what I have seen this is not forum about rasing taxes. Rather, it is a public forum for Evanstonians to voice their concerns about the community. I have seen the pamphlets promoting the event aound town, and nothing mentions "taxes" anywhere. It actually mentions pensions… since that is a major issue these days.

    I would encourage people to attend the event themselves and see if this "under-taxed" talk is legit or not…

  8. get the facts straight, dont speculate

    This wont be about raising taxes. Frankly, I dont know where the notion even came from. There are fliers all over town and they do not mention taxes. they do mention pensions, which is why the "special guest" will be there.

    I am sure taxes will come up (it is a community forum), but that is the exact point of the event. To reach out to constituents and get their feedback… Check it out for yourselves

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.