By Jerry Moore
State’s retirement debt must finally be addressed
Western suburbs — When discussing government debt, it’s easy to get lost.
That’s because the numbers are so staggering. But we’re drowning in debt, and our elected officials are doing little to address it.
Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy for the Illinois Policy Institute, gave a sobering presentation June 27 at the Lemont Township Community Center on the state’s retirement debt crisis. The event was organized by the group Americans for Prosperity.
Illinois has the worst-funded pension system per capita in the nation, Dabrowski said. At A2, we also have the worst credit rating in the country by Moody’s Investors Service, he said.
The state has a retirement debt of $152.6 billion: $82.9 billion in state pensions, $15.5 billion in state pension bonds and $54.2 billion in state retiree health benefits.
The IPI calculated that all units of government throughout Illinois owe more than $203 billion in retirement debt. Aside from the $152.6 billion in state retirement debt, there is $38.2 billion in local pensions, $1.9 billion in local pension and benefit bonds and $10.7 billion in local retiree health benefits.
One recommendation the IPI is making is for public school teachers to adopt a 401(k) retirement system. Right now, one-third of all public education revenue is used for retirement, Dabrowski said. This will increase to one-half by 2029 and to three-quarters by 2045.
Teachers are at the mercy of public officials who’ve made dismal decisions, Dabrowski said. A 401(k) system would leave the teachers in control of their retirement funds, not the state.
Dabrowski is correct. Seeing how poorly our state pension systems are funded, many teachers are understandably concerned about how they’ll fare in retirement.
To read more from the IPI about this problem as well as its recommendations, visit illinoispolicy.org.
As legislators crisscross the region seeking re-election, everyone must press them on what they intend to do about this pending catastrophe. Recess is over, folks. It’s time to get back to work and resolve this crisis once and for all.
Read the article at Lyons Suburban Life...