Pension Crisis

Pension Crisis a Threat to Chicago's Future

Worst-funded system of any city

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It's not the vision of a world-class city that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel typically likes to portray.

More teachers losing their jobs, thousands fewer police and firefighters on duty, less frequent trash collection and miles of potholed roads going unrepaired—all as property taxes soar.

But that's the scenario Emanuel and others have said could befall the nation's third-largest city if the state Legislature—which passed a landmark measure last week to address Illinois' severe public pension shortfall—doesn't deal with Chicago's own multibillion-dollar pension problem.

The economic capital of Illinois and the Midwest, Chicago holds the dubious distinction of having the worst-funded public pension system of any major U.S. city. It's a crisis that's putting in peril Chicago's reputation as "the city that works," and its vision of being a modern transportation hub in the midst of a high-tech boom.