Social Security

Recalled Legislators Unlikely to Fix Illinois Pension Crisis

State has unfunded liabilities of $83 billion.


(Reuters)—Illinois lawmakers, meeting during a special session on Friday in a bid to fix the state's ailing public pension programs, are unlikely to produce an overhaul of the nation's most underfunded state retirement system, lawmakers and lobbyists said.

Governor Patrick Quinn, who called legislators back to the state capital of Springfield, said the state must reform the creaking system, which has unfunded liabilities of $83 billion.

But few lawmakers or lobbyists believe substantive action will be taken during Friday's session, which will consider one small pension bill, and could adjourn a few hours after it convenes.

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  1. No substantive action was ever proposed for the special session on pensions. The fact is nothing proposed would have had any impact on Illinois’ unfunded pension liability, which I estimate at more than $200 billion as of this year, and growing fast. Current public workers and retirees are at risk of getting reduced pension benefits or none at all. Pension debt is beyond any capacity of the state to pay through tax hikes, service cuts and reductions in future benefits. The entire system is fundamentally corrupt and unsustainable. It enriches the few at huge expense to the many. The truly baffling question is why public workers keep giving money to — and putting into office — the people who are ripping them off. Taxpayers did not do this to you, public employees, your politicians did.

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