pensions

Jenna Dooley

A report from Chicago-based nonprofit Truth in Accounting found taxpayers would have to pay more than $45,000 each to cover the state’s unfunded debts. 

The report examined the fiscal year before Illinois entered into the current budget impasse. Sheila Weinberg, the founder of Truth in Accounting, says things have only gotten worse because the state is racking up more debt without a budget.

Weinberg notes taxpayers may be tired of all the bad news, but says they need an accurate picture of the state’s situation.

illinois.gov

Springfield may be a desert when it comes to budget deals, but it seemed like there was a small oasis: an agreement between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton on pensions.

They say Illinois could save a billion dollars a year by forcing teachers and state workers to make a choice. Either retire on a higher pensionable salary, or be allowed to receive compounded cost-of-living bumps upon retirement.

During his budget address last week, though, Rauner signaled impatience:

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Little changed about Illinois pensions since the state's high court declared lawmakers' last attempt unconstitutional. But the state's leaders signaled they may be ready to talk about trying again.

“No one wants to talk about it, but we have to.” House GOP Leader Jim Durkin said last week while leaving a private meeting with the governor and other legislative leaders, where Durkin says they had a healthy discussion about pensions. “Unfunded liability continues to grow. We can't lose sight of that. We can get there at some point.”

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

The City of Chicago is preparing to make its final case to the Illinois Supreme Court that changes to some of its underfunded pension systems are constitutional.

City attorneys argue their changes to city workers’ retirement benefits prevent the funds from running out of money.

Let’s say the pension funds run out of money. The city thinks unions representing those workers will go back to court - asking a judge to force the city to pay the very pensions that are out of money.

Amanda Vinicky

Another lawsuit over a pension law was filed this week in Illinois, this time seeking to strike a law that reduced Chicago Park District pensions. That could be significant for other local governments, and future negotiations.

When it first passed, the park district pension law was seen as a possible model for future ones. That's partially because it had been drafted in cooperation with SEIU, the union representing park district workers.

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