Pension Talk

The Wall Street Journal is none too pleased with Gov. Quinn’s new pension idea. Their latest editorial reads: Now that Chicago’s children have returned to not learning in school, we can all move on to the next crisis in Illinois public finance: unfunded public pensions. Readers who live in the other 49 states will be pleased to learn that Gov. Quinn’s 2012 budget proposal already floated the idea of a federal guarantee of its pension debt. Think Germany and eurobonds for Greece, Italy and Spain.

Remember last spring when Illinois faced two forces of fiscal disaster in its pension system and its ever-growing Medicaid system? The legislature fixed the Medicaid problem in short order. But Illinois Republicans say Gov. Pat Quinn is stalling in removing ineligible patients from Illinois Medicaid rolls – a $350 million component of a $1.6 billion trim of Medicaid expenses this spring. The State Journal-Register doesn’t believe there’s intentional delay. But still, it says, the state needs to move quickly. “The state does not have $100 million sitting around if the Medicaid reform law falls far short of its savings goals. “

With Illinois’ Medicaid system on the verge of bankrupting the state, lawmakers in May cut benefits for Medicaid patients and enacted stricter standards for checking eligibility. Those were supposed to save $1.6 billion; a cigarette tax increase would bring in $700 million. Progress Illinois wonders if the savings really will add up.

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