By Ted Dabrowski -
Illinois’ collapsing state pension systems are seen as the poster child of pension crises across the nation. But another pension crisis is taking place even closer to home.
There are nearly 650 locally run pension funds in Illinois, which cover retired police officers and firefighters, along with one consolidated fund for municipal retirees.
These municipal pension systems are burning through city budgets, pushing property taxes higher and forcing cuts in local services.
Nearly every city in Illinois is in crisis. Not surprisingly, Springfield, the very city in which state legislators meet to negotiate pension laws, is experiencing some of the most negative effects on taxpayers, city workers and city services.
The pension debt burden on Springfield residents doubled over the past decade to nearly $7,000.
Taxpayers pay four times more into pensions than city workers are paying.
Pension costs are eating up more and more of the city budget. Libraries have been shut, the police force has been cut and municipal employees have been laid off.
And yet police, fire and city workers may still see their pensions slashed.
The story is the same for many cities across the state.
Without real pension reform, the financial condition of cities across Illinois will continue to deteriorate. The collapse of city budgets is a lose-lose situation for taxpayers, city retirees and those dependent on core government services.
If you’ve been wondering why potholes on your street haven’t been repaired, your property tax bill keeps getting bigger or if you’re seeing local fees continue to go up, check out the health of your local pension systems.
Ted Dabrowski is Vice President of Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute