Category Archives: Finances

Unfunded Pension Liability up to $95B from $83B

Breaking news!
The governor’s office has updated its pension numbers over the past week. With the state’s largest retirement system expecting to earn less on its investments, the state’s unfunded pension liability now stands at $95 billion. That’s up from the previous figure of $83 billion. And it will only grow without significant reform to the current pension system.

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Illinois is marching to the edge of its own financial cliff

Illinois is marching to the edge of its own financial cliff by failing to control its ever-growing pension costs, says the leader of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. When the market collapsed in 2008, so did the bottom lines of the state’s pensions. “While the nation went through the worst recession in modern history, Illinois’ public pension funds still were projecting healthy returns with their heads firmly in the sand,” writes Doug Whitley.
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Do you know who is financing the candidates in your legislative district?

Do you know who is financing the candidates in your legislative district? Check out this example from the newly drawn 96th Illinois House District, which includes parts of Springfield and Decatur: “Aided heavily by funds controlled by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, (Sue) Scherer was able to spend more than $237,000 on her campaign from July 1 through Sept. 30. Nearly $90,000 more was spent on her behalf for staff assistance, printing and postage. All but $2,600 of that came from campaign funds controlled by Madigan.” Illinois campaign finance laws allow legislative leaders to give unlimited amounts to House and Senate candidates. Thus targeted races can become proxy wars between leaders, and winning candidates arrive at the Capitol dependent on the caucus leader who financed his or her campaign.


Wall Street Journal Dissects Illinois’ “Double Helix” Situation

The Wall Street Journal editorial page sure knows how to turn a phrase. On the cause of Illinois’ wretched financial situation, the WSJ blames “the double helix of government unions and Democratic politicians.” It may not be quite that simple, but who can’t appreciate a phrase that catchy?


Cross: “Financial Mismanagement is Pushing Families Out of State”

Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, tells us what we already know: “Financial mismanagement is pushing families and businesses out of our state. The time to reform the pension system is now.” No mention, however, of the sole obstacle to pension reform: school districts footing their own pension bills.

Illinois DCFS Getting Cuts Because of State Pension Issues

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services protects the state’s most vulnerable children. Proper functioning of this department can mean, literally, the difference between life and death to a child suffering from abuse or neglect. The state’s budget trouble, caused largely by state pension payments cutting into funding in other areas, is a constant threat to this important agency.

Illinois’ Monumentally Bad Decisions: Documented

Warning: This story veers into the weeds a bit about the national pension debt picture. We recommend scrolling quickly to the section on Illinois about midway down. In two paragraphs, it gives a nice snapshot how Illinois made monumentally bad decisions that turned its pension system into a threat to the entire state budget.

Illinois’ Debt.

Every wage-earner in Illinois carries $55,000 in state debt, according to one analysis. “Illinois has $271.1 billion worth of debt, among the worst states in terms of total debt,” reports Illinois Watchdog. The study focuses on per-worker state debt because, “Private sector workers are at increased risk, as they are the ultimate tax base for reducing state debt.” 

Jimmy John’s Talks Big About Leaving Illinois

It’s not like losing an auto plant or corporate headquarters of a multinational company, but the head of the Jimmy John’s sandwich chain says he’s moving part of his corporate operation out of Illinois. “I think you’ll probably see us out of Illinois in the next four years and probably see us in Indiana or Austin (Texas), if I was to guess,” Jimmy John  Liautaud told a panel discussion in Chicago this month. It’s not just the 2011 tax increase, Liataud says, but “the way they spend the tax” that has led him to look at other states, reports Crain’s Chicago Business.

Rutherford’s Figured out the Illinois Budget Out

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford has a simple strategy to fix Illinois’ budget: Stop borrowing to pay the state’s operating expenses and reform the public pension system. Well, it sounds simple anyway.

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