Nearly 20 Percent of Illinois' Budget to Go to Pensions

Gov. Quinn's response to lack of reform


The many moods of Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn
"The Nightmare Before Christmas," Touchstone Pictures

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn appears to have given up in actually leading any sort of pension reform in his state and instead today is introducing a $35.6 billion budget that will boost pension spending to consume 19 percent of the budget in order to meet obligations. Via the Chicago Sun-Times:

[W]hile the Quinn administration forecasts $817 million in new revenues coming into state coffers during the budget year beginning July 1, all of that money and more — $929 million — will go toward paying for added pension costs.

The Sun-Times notes that while the education spending will increase $500 million, that money won't go to actual school operations. Actual spending on the day-to-day operation of public schools and universities will drop by $400 million:

"These are not reductions the governor would like to see happen. He'd prefer we go the other way, but these are the direct results of inaction" on pensions, Jerry Stermer, Quinn's budget director, told reporters during a Tuesday evening budget briefing.

While Quinn decries the lack of action by the legislature, he hasn't exactly been a model for leadership. As I've repeatedly noted, what little pension reform California has managed on the state level involved a direct plan put forth by Gov. Jerry Brown. Quinn's most recent (and very bizarre) proposal involved creating an unelected and unaccountable commission to deal with the pension crisis so that he doesn't have to.

He may perhaps hope that presenting a budget like this will force the state legislature's hand, but legislators (sadly) have much less of an incentive to stand up to the public employee unions than the governor. It's harder for voters to observe and hold legislators accountable for state budgeting. Going against the unions is probably much riskier for a Democratic legislature candidate when the lower-turnout, get-out-the-vote-dependent primaries come around. It's really hard to visualize public pension reform happening without strong state executive branch involvement.

Even as Californians voted in a Democratic supermajority into the legislature in November (just like Illinois), a Reason-Rupe poll from last year (pdf) showed state voters want to reduce government spending, reduce the number of government employees, and push state employees into 401(k)-style retirement funds to limit government liability. Even though voters went with Democrats, they still want pension changes.

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  1. Voters are stupid.

    And first

    1. But they get free stuff! The stupider the voter, the free-er the stuff!

  2. 20% of the federal budget goes to pensions Social Security.

  3. I really don’t see the cosmotarian perspective on homosexual marriage. The rights of marriage, the main things the gays are after, are positive rights. It isn’t about welfare or tax breaks. It is about forcing business owners and hospitals to treat them the same and normal people. That’s why, when it came up for ballot in my state, I voted no.

    1. I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to precede that by “OT:”

      I like the testimonial style though.

      1. I think he should precede it by “I realize some bitches totally hashed out exactly fucking this earlier, but whatevs, COSMOZ OT:”

        1. That seems super cumbersome to type out though, why must you raise barriers to entry on our poor trolling population?

          1. Because I’m a heartless cosmotarian?

              1. I’m not seeing whatever you guys are responding to here. Did Golden Girl get removed already?

    2. COZMOS!!!!!!!!!

    3. Ok, so get the government out of the marriage business altogether. And also, fuck off, or just come out of the closet already.

    4. It is about forcing business owners and hospitals to treat them the same and normal people.

      can’t imagine why cosmotarians or -tarians of any stripe would have any problem at all with that.

      1. I fell like something is missing here.

        They should probably just delete the responses too when deleting comments.

        1. Naw, that’s no fun. They need a “Post deleted due to asshattery” placeholder.

  4. Hey, they have to keep those former governors somewhere, right?

    1. woops. Thought that said prisons.

      1. Hey, one of ours is now in a halfway house thank you very much! One one is currently in the pen, harumph!

        Illinois – As one of the commentariat once said “its enough to make Santa Claus vomit with rage”.

  5. I should say “voters are willfully ignorant”. I was a Republican for a long time. During the tenure of Bush the Younger, I became totally disillusioned with the party. My eyes were opened! At that point, I began evaluation my options. I looked closely at the Democrat platform, the Constitution party, etc. Happily, I stumbled across libertarianism, here I is.

    When I look at CA, at the long term shitty state of the politics here, I can’t help but wonder why more people don’t become disillusioned with their own party. Why don’t they question these dipshits they have been electing all these years? Just look at past attempts to deal with the same problems and how they turned out. It’s all team politics. Too few are willing to question their own preconceptions.

    1. Good question. I also have often wondered how, in places where one party dominates politics almost completely, the dominant party can remain intact. It seems to me that the party would split.

      I guess it is a testament to the success of Team loyalty idiocy. If the party split, then the other guys might win something, so you have to vote for your team. Even if you disagree with them completely.

  6. Even though voters went with Democrats, they still want pension changes.

    No, no they really don’t. They want whatever the Dems will promise to give them, no matter the cost. Some, the ones who realize that this is morally wrong, will lie to pollsters in a sort of guilt-reduction but there will be no principled stance. Mostly because these are party hacks devoid of principle. Fuck them.

    1. I’m not sure the logic goes much past “DEMOCRAT – GOOD.”

    2. Here in IL it is the Teachers unions, govt employee unions and cop/firefighter unions vs all the rest of us. So what if our taxes will have to triple – they want was promised by the politicians they bought fair and square!!!!

      Also, until Mike Madigan dies or retires, nothing will happen in IL at all.

  7. You can bet when things really get tough that Quinn will hide behind raising funds for veterans.

    1. He’s been doing that for years – he always tries to cloak himself as “the Veteran’s Friend”.

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