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Illinois Officials Intentionally Fail to Reform Cash-Strapped Pension Plans
An Open Letter to Illinois Citizens:
September 11, 2012
By Lee Schalk
At the end of August, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Illinois’ credit rating in response to the State Legislature’s failure to achieve any pension reform during its August 17th special session. According to one legislator, “Both parties intentionally failed – so that each now has the opportunity to blame each other.”
While your elected officials play the blame game ahead of the November elections, the debt burden per Illinoisan is at $21,000 and climbing. Additionally, as Jonathan Ingram of the Illinois Policy Institute recently stated, there are “two numbers that matter most: $632 billion and $65 billion. $632 billion is the total amount the state’s pension plans will pay out for pension benefits between now and 2045. $65 billion is the total amount of money the state’s pension plans have on hand.” These figures are staggering yet not at all surprising.
Now, in response to the S&P downgrade, Governor Quinn is calling for a special September meeting with heads of the Legislature, but the chances of reform this month are slim to none. This session is just another smokescreen to make elected officials appear as though they care about the pension catastrophe.
Quinn and company can’t keep this up forever though. When they do finally get serious about addressing the problem, “they’ll need a plan that addresses the true scope of the crisis. And that means ending the defined benefit system, a root cause of this problem,” according to Ted Dabrowski at the Illinois Policy Institute.
Even with the current mess, don’t expect any grownup conversations in the next 60 days. Rather, brace yourself for additional finger pointing and fiscal irresponsibility. When November 6th rolls around, you’ll have a chance to tell your leaders, “Game over.”
For additional policy updates from the Land of Lincoln and beyond, stay in touch with the National Taxpayers Union and the Illinois Policy Institute. Also, be sure to check out the Illinois Policy Institute’s Pension Accountability Tour. The next stop is September 25th in Rockford. For more information, click HERE.
Your Grassroots Action Team at NTU