About Us

The Illinois Update is an educational media project affiliated with the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). ILEPI promotes thoughtful economic growth for businesses and working families.

DSC_5473. FrankManzo. LowRES. BobBriskeyPhoto. 708.829.4490

Frank Manzo IV, MPP – Frank Manzo IV, MPP is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. Prior to working at ILEPI, he worked at the University of Illinois Labor Education Program and in the Federal Reserve system. He earned a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an Advanced Certificate of Labor Studies from the University of Illinois Labor Education Program. His research interests include labor market analysis, economic development, infrastructure investment, the low-wage labor force, and public finance. He can be contacted at fmanzo@illinoisepi.org.

Headshot Low ResolutionMary (Craighead) Tyler, MUP, AICP – Mary Tyler, AICP is the Transportation Policy Analyst at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. Prior to joining ILEPI, she served as the Coordinator for the Victoria, TX Metropolitan Planning Organization and Senior Transportation Planner for the City of Victoria, TX. She earned a Master of Urban Planning and Graduate Certificate in Transportation Planning from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Evansville. Her research interests include transportation planning and policy, community development, energy policy, infrastructure investment, and environmental policy. She can be contacted at mcraighead@illinoisepi.org.

DSC_5427. JillManzo. LowRES. BobBriskeyPhoto. 708.829.4490

Jill Gigstad – Jill Gigstad is the Midwest Researcher at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies from Iowa State University. Her research interests include income inequality, infrastructure investment, economic development, education policy, and the overall labor force. She can be contacted at jmanzo@illinoisepi.org.


Allison Taylor – Allison Taylor is the Comptroller at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and Finance from Benedictine University. She can be contacted at ataylor@illinoisepi.org.



5 thoughts on “About

  1. About Illinois pensions – I’ve read that its one of a handful of states which don’t allow pensioners to also receive social security.
    I’m a newcomer to your blog, but appreciate your perspective. I’d like to better understand why this decision was made, and how allowing pensioners to receive social security could change the dynamics of that crises.

    1. Hi Victoria Lynn:

      We appreciate the question. Nationally, 25% of state and local government employees are not covered by Social Security. In Illinois, 78% of workers in the state retirement system do not receive Social Security coverage. A few years ago, WBEZ reported on why.

      [T]he short answer is that when it comes to retirement security, Chicago teachers in particular beat the Social Security system to the punch; the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund was created in 1895, making it one of the oldest pension systems in the country. The feds, though, took until the 1930s — four decades later — to create Social Security. But even after Social Security was in place, it was still a work in progress; by the 1950s the federal government expanded the program, opening it to new classes of state and municipal workers.

      At this point Chicago teachers had the option of joining, too, but they took a pass. Why? Kevin Huber, the current head of the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, says most people involved in the teachers’ pensions (whether it be the pension fund board trustees or the teachers themselves) felt that they already had a good thing going.

      “In the ‘50s, it didn’t make a lot of sense [to join Social Security] because you had an established plan that was 60 years old. 1895. Sixty years old,” Huber says. “It was working well, so why would we? Why would we go into Social Security?”

      Because they do not receive Social Security, neither the state nor public employees pay that portion of FICA in taxes. Allowing pensioners to receive Social Security would increase payroll costs to the state and increase personal costs to the public employees – which is one reason why it would be difficult politically to make the change, even if the state could reduce its current pension contributions. That said, in their next collective bargaining agreement, the state and public sector unions could agree to a new “tier” in which new workers pay into and receive Social Security, if they want to.

      Hope that helps!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s