Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Wednesday gave his annual State of the State speech, praising the "major strides" made towards achieving his "vision of a more perfect democracy." He talked about the progress made in bringing high-speed rail to the Prairie State, urged the state's minimum wage to rise to $10 an hour, demanded a ban on the sale of "assault weapons" and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and called for "marriage equality." He also noted that his progressive vision for Illinois "cannot be fully realized without pension reform" and urged his fellow voters to be "part of the solution."
Illinois has the worst unfunded pension liability of any state, an estimated $85 billion, according to a recent report from the State Budget Task Force. Unfunded health care liabilities for state and local government retirees amount to more than $1 trillion. By 2015, pension costs and related debt service could take up one-fourth of the state's resources. The study concludes: "Without some type of reform that reduces costs going forward, the systems appear destined for insolvency. Illinois needs to act now to salvage the benefits of future retirees."