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Debt can’t be any more than 5% of state budget. Settle pension debt & must be fulfilled same budget year. This next budget, pay off total pension fund with what is 5% of budget total because debt can’t be carried over, States’ part of the debt to pensions are paid in full. The unions & politicians that received portions of the funds, can pay their part forever because there are no limits to personal debt.


Here is the problem: most of us don’t know how to suggest this to our reps. in Springfield. Recently I was at a meeting with my State House member and he basically said that Republicans were going to aim just for the consolidation of pension funds. No constitutional amendment to cut pensions or dealing with 3% COLA for beginners. Lets not risk our political careers on anything of meaty substance. In my opinion the consolidation of pension funds is like aiming for a consolation prize or just being satisfied with crumbs. To challenge a state pol. takes $ and name… Read more »

Cass Andra

Consolidation of Chicago with other systems shifts the liability from Chicago taxpayers to statewide taxpayers (including those in Chicago). And remember, the liability includes both pensions and 20-30 years of health care for those who retire in their 50s or early 60s. Little or no money has been set aside for retiree health benefits. ALSO, Chicago can go bankrupt with state approval and the court can force pension and health benefit reductions on the retirees (many of whom live out of state). The state can’t go bankrupt and will be stuck with ALL the liabilities. That will either cost everyone… Read more »


IL legislators are arrogant and don’t really serve anyone but the progressives who elected them, and pension reform is very low on the list. They throw their fists in the air to kill babies and laugh off the mailbags of hate mail; and then tell their constituents at town halls that they really do just want to take all of their guns away, because they say to their right leaning conservatives “we hate you”.


I keep trying to wrap my head around this mess but need it put in dummy terms. The pensioners paid in every paycheck. The politicians made promises to them basically for their votes but failed to put in their share (which taxpayers pay for) each and every “paycheck” as the workers did so now we are all screwed even though as taxpayers we have all paid for this every time we paid taxes. Is that about right ?

Cass Andra

That’s the union line and is true as far as it goes, but there’s much more to the story. Many unions bargained so that the employers would put in the employee contribution (this is called a “pick-up plan.”) So employee contributions were not coming out of the members’ pockets. Often the unions overtly or tacitly consented to the employer short-changing the pension so the union members could bigger pay raises in their pockets. (That, in turn, raised the members’ pensions down the road.) Some of the plan investments got invested in bogus projects supported by the union with kickbacks of… Read more »

S & P 500

The Crain’s article “The Illinois Pension Disaster” is the best narrative I’ve read about how the state ended up with 25% funded pensions. Basically it’s like a long episode of “American Greed”. Of course the same thing has happened to many other states in varying degrees.

Peter A Quilici

Sadly, reason, commentary, or awaiting Illinois pols to honor their fiduciary obligation to all citizens are not going to bring change. We’re in a “post literate society,” as some media observers call it, and most citizens cannot grasp what’s going on until their personal fiscal situation has deteriorated beyond repair. At that point, they devolve into anarchy, like some areas in Chicago already have, or they leave or just slowly degrade due to despair. The end game is unclear. My best guess is that a critical mass of small government units simultaneously going into chaotic and brutal de facto insolvency… Read more »


Everyone in IL knows the state is a disaster. But ‘orange man bad’ so they vote Democrats. I know these people and so do you. It’s your neighbor down the block; it’s your kid’s elementary school teacher; it’s the secretary in your office; it’s the lifeguard at the pool. Orange man bad, orange man bad, so they all vote for democrats. 800,000 more people voted in IL in 2018 than 2014 (Rauner-R) and nearly all of them, yes, nearly all of them (assuming no voter fraud), voted Democrat.


I am a state worker in my 60s. As sad as i am to see how all the pension promises seem moot at this point, i do agree an amendment should be done asap. I would rather have it be over and done with and know i can still look forward to some retirement funds being left for me to draw upon, as i am too old for a do over at this point. I do not think anyone should be taxed to pay for my retirement, and that includes me, as i have already contributed many years to it… Read more »


Good plans have been put forward that don’t affect current retirees. But they do affect new hires a lot by going to defined contribution plans entirely. And the best plans also affect people somewhere in the middle of their union careers. It’s that group which prevents reform and they are constitutionally protected from “reform”. It is now a cross generational Ponzi scheme that is reliant on our kids being schmucks and staying in Illinois for their careers.


Actually, many Illinois residents have woken up, thanks to writers like Mark. Unfortunately, they don’t vote. They left Illinois, which was and still is, the only logical solution.

Bob Out of here

I’m one of them, and my best friend from HS and his wife are 2 more. When Public Act 99-0506 passed a few years ago, I was flabbergasted. Everyone ignored my warning about the pension spike coming in 2023 at the time, but now the public is waking up. I really miss my life there and would like to come back, but refuse to be financially liable.




Everyone and I mean everyone knows the state is a disaster. But the smart ones have all left. The lot that is left all vote and they all vote Democrat. it’s the secretary in your office, it’s your kids school teacher, its the receptionist at hotel where you stayed last weekend, it’s the guy who sold you your cell phone, and so on….and they all think “orange man bad” and vote democrat, over and over again. And god forbid you try to tell people these that they are continuing to vote for people who make the problems worse…all they say… Read more »

Cass Andra

Looking at Chicago only, I think that something like an emergency pension tax should be levied to get peoples’ attention. Sales tax, value added, double bus fares, gasoline tax. Hit everyone where [s]he lives. I don’t know what that would require by way of a legislative vote or how long it would take. Keep the tax in place for a couple of months and then hold a vote as to whether the tax should be continued or some things should be cut. No pension payments above $100 per month times years of service, for example. Then just DO it and… Read more »


They’re doing that now. But if you boil a frog slowly enough he won’t jump out of the pot. And that is the more likely outcome, many will stay and never realize it got so bad because of local taxes. They will instead blame the president, the electoral college, the lack of free tuition and healthcare, “racism”, the rich, etc. this state is full of the kind of frogs that CAN be boiled slowly because they just love guys like pritzker. Woke socialists at heart fundamentally believe onslaughts of taxes are good.

Defenders of the “balanced-budget” claim will want to paint the above as a matter of semantics. But the billions in shortfalls are not only a matter of accounting. When the state continues to grow its  pension promises  faster than it can pay for them – and then doesn’t pay enough into its state-worker retirement plans – it doesn’t balance the budget. The state’s debts jump as a result.  Illinois’ skyrocketing  pension and retiree health insurance debts are the evidence of that.

world with end

Right. I think that anyone who says IL has a balanced budget knows he or she is lying, doesn’t understand finances, doesn’t bother to check the numbers, or is of a low intellect. Take your pick. In some cases, he or she gets to check more than one box!


Everyone knows how bad IL is, they just don’t care. because they’re rather virtue signal their love for late term abortion than address any real budgetary or pension issues. The household finances of many of these voters looks exactly like the state’s finances too. Huge mortgage, massive car payment, bad credit, high property taxes, stagnant wages at job, but at the mall (or on amazon) spending hundreds of dollars on knick-knacks every month just doing balance transfers to keep afloat.