CHICAGO – State worker pensions now cost Illinois taxpayers more than 25 percent of the state's annual budget, but still, it's just not enough.
A new report from the Commission on Government Forecasting Accountability found that in the past year, Illinois’ pension debt grew to $130 billion, up 17 percent from 2015.
And if that debt explosion isn't troubling enough, the report also found that the state’s five pensions funds now have less than 38 cents on hand for every dollar needed today to pay out future benefits.
According to Fitch Ratings, Illinois’ pension plans are the worst-off in the nation.
“Now more than ever, this shows that the state’s pension math doesn’t work,” said Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute. “It doesn’t work for struggling taxpayers who are forced to pay more and more into the pension funds. It doesn’t work for the poor and disadvantaged who are seeing core services cut. And it doesn’t work for state workers whose retirements are at risk.
“Lawmakers have no excuse to continue ignoring Illinois’ crippling pension crisis. They can immediately implement reforms that don’t require changes to the Illinois Constitution, including putting all new government workers on 401(k)-style plans and providing optional self-managed accounts to existing workers.”
Taxpayers are already on the hook for over $1 billion in extra contributions to the pension systems in 2018, which will result in greater cuts to core state services. Without reforms, these costs will only continue to rise.