Thursday, May 6, 2010

State playing hot potato with pension burden

Pension costs loom large over the still unresolved budget debate in Springfield as the current legislative session heads to a climax.

The red ink is so deep that Gov. Pat Quinn and Democratic lawmakers are considering borrowing billions to cover pension obligations for next year, rather than diverting scarce tax dollars from other budget priorities. The state did the same thing last year and the cost of paying for that borrowing is adding more than $800 million to the budget problem Springfield is struggling with right now.

Political expert Charles N. Wheeler III said the financial neglect dates back at least 40 years. "For governors and legislators, there were always more pressing needs they wanted to spend money on," said Wheeler, a professor at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois.

Wheeler's comments were featured in a May 6, 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.

Download a PDF of the article