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Prairie State Wire

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Retirement plans at root of pension, tax crisis in Illinois, report says


By Robert Hadley | Jul 19, 2018


Illinois taxpayers today owe billions toward the state’s unfunded pension liabilities, according to a report from the economics website

Over the last 30-odd years, the amount of money guaranteed to public-sector workers has jumped from $18 billion to more than $200 billion, an increase of more than 1,000 percent. At the same time, the report points out, state revenue has only grown 236 percent.

Commenting on the discrepancy last month was Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion in the Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) ruling, which decided unions could not charge non-members fees for negotiating on their behalf.

“Illinois pension funds are underfunded by $129 billion as a result of generous public-employee retirement packages,” Alito said.

The fact that the state has offered golden parachutes that may have been too gilded doesn’t seem to be getting much media traction, at least locally, according to the study’s authors.

“The findings interfere with the narrative that’s repeatedly promoted by public-sector unions and politicians — that the crisis is all the taxpayers’ fault for failing to put enough money toward pensions,” authors Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner wrote.

Despite how the issue has been covered, the report said it wasn’t tax revenue that should be increased to deal with the shortfall. Instead, reducing entitlements may be the key.

“Overpromising is the real culprit of the pension crisis,” the authors wrote. “Freezing and reversing that growth in promised benefits is the fair, and only, way to fix things.”

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