Thursday, June 4, 2020

COVID-19 pushes nation’s weakest public pension plans closer to the brink: A 50-state survey...

The nation’s weakest public pension funds may soon be among the casualties of COVID-19. Many were facing insolvency even before the virus hit and the stock market meltdown will only accelerate their decline. In 2018, the most recent year with comparable nationwide data, some of those funds had assets equal to just a few years’ worth of benefit payouts.

New IRS data release: Record losses of taxable income and taxpayers for Illinois –...

Illinois’ new decade is starting off with the same bad news the state struggled with throughout the 2010s – the increasing flight of Illinoisans to other states. The IRS has just released new domestic migration data and it shows Illinoisans left the state in record numbers.

Illinois owes $68 billion in health benefits to government retirees. Politicians haven’t set aside...

Pensions get all the attention when it comes to Illinois’ collapsing finances. But there’s another government-worker benefit also wreaking fiscal havoc – free and heavily-subsidized health insurance for retired state workers, teachers and community college employees. Illinois owed more than $68 billion in retiree health benefits to state workers as of 2018.

Why Chicago’s Lightfoot should push for a pension amendment, not tax hikes – Wirepoints...

If reports of Lightfoot’s plans are true – that she wants to increase taxes and push debts off further into the future – then it’s clear she doesn’t intend to fix Chicago’s problems. If she did, she would instead push for an amendment to the Illinois Constitution’s pension protection clause and take a hard line on contract negotiations.

Illinois’ demographic collapse: fewer immigrants, fewer babies and fleeing residents – Wirepoints Special Report

Illinoisans are leaving in record numbers. Fewer people want to come here. Our birth rate is down significantly, as millennials are also fleeing. Even international immigration has dropped by half. All of the state’s woes are captured in one sad statistic: Illinois is shrinking.

Illinois’ crisis: 20 facts Pritzker doesn’t want ordinary Illinoisans to know

There’s no argument that Illinois is a wreck. But read Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes’ new “budget” report and you might get the impression that former Gov. Bruce Rauner alone caused that wreck. However, Illinois was a fiscal and economic basket case long before 2015 and no amount of anti-Rauner rhetoric should let Illinoisans ignore that reality.

Illinois’ other debt disaster: $73 billion in unfunded state retiree health insurance benefits –...

Illinois' $130 billion in official pension debt gets all the attention when it comes to Illinois’ collapsing finances. But there’s another government-worker benefit also wreaking fiscal havoc – free and heavily-subsidized retiree health insurance for state workers. Illinois owes another $73 billion in retiree health insurance debt and doesn't have a single dime set aside to pay it.

What Pritzker’s progressive tax rates will probably look like – Wirepoints Special Report

Reposted due to recent coverage in the Wall Street Journal editorial "Nickel-and-Diming Democrats." Based on the spending promises J.B. Pritzker made during his campaign, any realistic progressive tax rate structure will have to raise taxes on middle-income earners  

Overpromising has crippled public pensions: A 50-state survey – Wirepoints Special Report

Most reporting usually focuses on the underfunding of state plans and blames the crises on a lack of taxpayer dollars. But a Wirepoints analysis found that it’s the uncontrolled growth in pension promises that’s actually wreaking havoc on state budgets and taxpayers alike. Overpromising is the true cause of many state crises. Underfunding is often just a symptom of the underlying problem.

Illinois state pensions: Overpromised, not underfunded – Wirepoints Special Report

Justice Alito wrote in the Janus vs. AFSCME decision that "Illinois’ pension funds are underfunded by $129 billion as a result of generous public-employee retirement packages. He's right. Wirepoints found that Illinois promised pension benefits have grown 1,100 percent since 1987, multiple times more than the state budget, the economy and taxpayers ability to pay.

Administrators over kids: Seven ways Illinois’ education bureaucracy siphons money from classrooms – Wirepoints...

Listen to Illinois education officials’ demands for more money and it’s easy to believe Illinois grossly underspends on K-12 education. But the truth is Illinois already spends more on education than any other Midwest state. It’s just that much of the money is going to all the wrong places. Billions of dollars are being siphoned away from the state’s poorest districts by the state’s burgeoning education bureaucracy.

Beyond Harvey: Many Illinois municipalities running out of options – Wirepoints Special Report

Wirepoints has performed an analysis of 180 Illinois cities with both a dedicated police and fire pension fund, examining their finances and their pensions. The findings, which will be released in a forthcoming paper, are alarming. Look at the numbers – at the collapsing funding ratios, broken budgets, and unsustainable tax burdens – and anyone can see that many cities aren’t far off from a breaking point.  

Harvey, the first domino in Illinois: Data shows nearly 400 other pension funds could...

You’d be mistaken to think Harvey, Illinois has a unique pension crisis. The mess is everywhere, from East St. Louis to Rockford and from Quincy to DanvilleA review of Illinois Department of Insurance pension data shows that Harvey could be just the start of a flood of garnishments across the state.

Illinois’ regressive pension funding scheme: wealthiest school districts benefit most – Wirepoints Special Report

The state's teacher pension funding scheme, where one unit of government doles out benefits while another one pays for them, has destroyed accountability and driven up taxes on struggling Illinoisans. And it’s regressive. Rep. McSweeney is wrong to ally himself with the IEA to block a pension cost shift.    

Why Rauner’s failures justify a reform agenda in Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s leadership failures have deflated the political pressure for reforms in Illinois. But his inability to change anything, ironically, only strengthens the case for structural reforms. The longer Illinois’ status quo policies remain in place, the more this state will continue to decline.

Springfield fiddles while Illinois cities burn – Wirepoints Special Report

Special report: Decades of state mandates have pushed up costs, taxes and debts to unsustainable levels for many cities. They’re either at the brink of bankruptcy because of unfunded pensions or have lost people and businesses due to high taxes and fewer services. The most unfortunate cities, like Danville Illinois, are suffering from both.