ADDRESSING STATE’S PENSION DEBT
A Senate task force met this week to discuss the state’s massive pension debt, and offer tentative solutions to reducing Illinois’ pension obligations. Illinois has consistently held the dubious distinction of claiming the worst pension funding problem in the nation.
The Senate Pension System Modernization Task Force met September 16. As Illinois’ pension debt continues to grow, state leaders have met with business groups and unions to discuss possible solutions to reduce the state’s overwhelming pension obligations.
Task force members heard from state retirees, as well teachers unions, the Civic Federation and Governor Pat Quinn’s staff. A representative from the Quinn administration presented the Governor’s key recommendations, which focus on funding and revenue enhancements. Quinn is once again pushing an income tax hike as a way to increase state revenues.
The Governor is also encouraging the Task Force to consider taxes on retiree benefits and raising contributions for all employees, as well as creating a new system that would offer fewer benefits to new hires.
SUBCOMMITTEES TO CONVENE OCTOBER 2
The Task Force has plans to convene three subcommittees on October 2, which include a Funding Subcommittee, Benefits Subcommittee and a Collective Bargaining Subcommittee.
These subcommittees are charged with assembling a Final Report to submit to the General Assembly. Any recommendations on the state’s pension benefits must meet with 75 percent approval from the Benefits Subcommittee members to be included in the final report.
Kudos to the Chicago Sun-Times for its “Pension Bonanza” investigation, which focuses on the state’s pensions systems.
I have been calling for reforms to Illinois’ woefully underfunded retirement systems for years.
The Sun-Times editorial board strongly advocated for pension reforms, including ending the practice of working at one government job, while collecting a pension at another government job (“double-dipping”); the collection of automatic, annual 3 percent pension increases; the taxing of pensions; and reducing benefits for new hires.