IL Policy Institute statement on pension proposal

January 21, 2016

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republican legislative leaders proposed a pension-reform plan based on Senate President John Cullerton’s 2013 “consideration” proposal. Although the plan proposed today does not solve the state’s pension crisis, it restarts the process of putting Illinois’ government retirement systems on a sustainable path forward.

CHICAGO (Jan. 21, 2015) – Today, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republican legislative leaders proposed a pension-reform plan based on Senate President John Cullerton’s 2013 “consideration” proposal. Although the plan proposed today does not solve the state’s pension crisis, it restarts the process of putting Illinois’ government retirement systems on a sustainable path forward.

Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute, issued the following statement on today’s proposal:

“Illinois’ pension system is bankrupting the state and forcing taxpayers to dump more and more of their hard-earned tax dollars into a failed system. Money that should be going to infrastructure, schools or other public needs instead is being used to pay for out-of-control pensions costs. Meanwhile, teachers, child-support workers and others in the public sector are forced to put money into a pension system that may not be there when they retire.

“Illinois has $111 billion in pension debt, and the state’s pension debt grows every day. Since the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling on Senate Bill 1 in 2015, pension reform talks have stalled. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s effort to kick-start the discussion is a step in the right direction. Illinois’ elected leaders should be coming together to fix the state’s pension crisis and put Illinois on a sustainable path forward. While details on the savings from today’s announcement from the governor are not yet clear, this proposal marks the start of new discussions toward reform. Illinois politicians should work together to enact changes to the pension system that will give state workers control of their retirement future in a way that is fair and affordable to taxpayers.”

Additional info on Illinois’ pension crisis:

  • Illinois’ unfunded pension liability sits at $111 billion – which is more than three times the state’s annual budget.
  • Annual cost-of-living adjustments awarded to retired government workers in Illinois are so generous that a retired government worker’s annual pension can double within 25 years of retirement.
  • Fifty-three percent of the 213,000 retired government workers in Illinois, which includes former employees of state government and teachers, receive lifetime pension benefits in excess of $1 million, according to data from the retirement systems.
  • Nearly 40,000 retired government workers in Illinois are on pace to receive more than $2 million in lifetime pension benefits.

The vesting period for government pensions is so short that 60 percent of retired government workers in Illinois retire and begin collecting benefits in their 50s.

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