For the second year in a row, the state’s annual pension payment will increase by nearly $1 billion. The combined payment for all five state pension systems will increase to $6.8 billion next year, up from $5.9 billion this year.
Illinois’ pension systems are broke and could soon be insolvent. None of the systems have enough assets on hand to pay benefits to those who have already retired, let alone those still working. Only major reforms, like those centered on defined-contribution plans and those tackling the automatic cost-of-living adjustment, can get the problem under control.
Without these reforms, pensions will continue to crowd out funding for core government services and the systems will run out of money, meaning public workers could see their future pension checks disappear altogether.
The longer state lawmakers delay action, the worse the pension debt crisis will become. Gov. Pat Quinn and legislators must make the tough choices necessary to get the state’s fiscal house in order instead of pinning their hopes on a possible federal bailout.