Journalist in Residence
It’s pretty hard to come up with solutions when you don’t know the problem.
In a letter to Reboot Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn said:
“We now face a $96 billion unfunded [pension] liability, and it grows by $17.1 million a day. Our 2013 pension payment - $5.1 billion – is triple what our pension payments were just five years ago and constitutes a whopping 15 percent of our general revenue fund spending. Illinois is on track to spend more on pensions than education by 2016!”
Huh? What kind of math are they using in the governor’s office?
According to a report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, here’s how much the various pension systems are set to receive for fiscal year 2013:
- Teachers’ Retirement System: $2,703,478,000
- State Universities Retirement System: $1,402,800,000
- State Employees’ Retirement System: $1,659,576,000
- Judges’ Retirement System: $88,210,000
- General Assembly Retirement System: $14,150,000
That adds up to: $5,868,214,000. Just for 2013 pension payments.
The governor misstated the size of the state’s contribution for pensions by almost $800 million.
To quote the late, great Illinois statesman Everett Dirksen: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.”
Next year’s payment is projected to be more than $6 billion.