Thursday, April 8, 2010

Opinion: In Praise of Illinois

Democrats take baby steps on pension reform.

The Pew Center on the States recently honored Illinois as the state with the biggest public pension mess. So it's a minor miracle that the state's Democratic legislature passed, and Democratic Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign, a pension reform that at least takes baby steps in trimming the state's retirement largesse for its 700,000 government workers. Perhaps bankruptcy concentrates the mind.

A new report by Charles Wheeler of the University of Illinois Springfield summarizes the state's problem this way: "To say Illinois faces a hole in funding its public employee pension systems is like saying the Grand Canyon is an impressive ravine." He finds that the state's five retirement systems "will need roughly $131 billion to cover benefits already earned by public workers, with only $46 billion in expected revenues to cover the costs."

Wheeler's report was featured in a Wall Street Journal opinions article on April 8, 2010. The research was also featured in a February 2010 edition of Illinois Issues magazine.

Download the article as a PDF: