*** UPDATE *** Senate President John Cullerton’s response to the Civic Committee’s over the top rant from yesterday…
Democratic leaders were poised to pass Civic Committee approved pension fixes in May. In fact the Senate passed significant reforms to the State Employees’ Retirement System and their own pensions. And while the Civic Committee endorsed reforms that included asking local school districts and universities to pay their fair share of pension costs, Republican leaders still haven’t offered their support. The Civic Committee’s post election condemnation on political courage would be more appropriate if it were directed to those leaders.
Bipartisan pension reform is still my top priority. I invite the Civic Committee to work with me to encourage rather than discourage reform.
Cullerton’s chief legal counsel also sent a letter to Ty Fahner saying the Civic Committee’s statements yesterday “generated more heat than light.” Read it here.
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
* From the Bond Buyer…
The health of Illinois’ pension system continued its downward spiral in the last fiscal year when unfunded liabilities rose by more than $11 billion and the funded ratio deteriorated to 40.4% from 43.4%, according to a review conducted by the Civic Federation of Chicago.
The state’s unfunded liabilities rose to $94.6 billion in fiscal 2012 which ended June 30, 2012 from $82.9 billion in fiscal 2011, according to the federation which tracks local government and state tax and spending policies. […]
The figures are based on a smoothing of assets over a five-year period. The state shifted to the method in fiscal 2009 to ease the impact of extreme market fluctuations on investment gains and losses in any given year. […]
Applying a market-based review, the state’s unfunded obligations rose to $96.8 billion in fiscal 2012 from $83.1 billion a year earlier while the funded ratio declined to 39% from 43.3%.
Quinn’s budget spokesman Abdon Pallasch said the latest pension figures “further illustrates the need for reforms called for by the governor.”
Please, don’t confuse the Civic Federation with the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, which went wildly over the top yesterday in its projections of imminent demise without revealing its actual data. Despite that refusal, its angry howls of doom were taken quite seriously by the AP…
Illinois’ public-employee pensions system is so far in debt that it is “unfixable,” an influential business group said Wednesday.
The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago told its members in a memo that even current retirees’ benefits must be cut and other drastic action taken to prevent pension-program bankruptcy, the memo said.
“The pension crisis has grown so severe that it is now unfixable,” former state attorney general Tyrone Fahner, the committee’s president, wrote. “We do not make that statement lightly. It is an honest statement that no one — not our legislators, nor our governor, nor labor leaders — is willing to say publicly.”
The memo said workers putting money into the retirement accounts will never see the payback they were promised.
“It’s not melodrama, it’s fraud,” Fahner said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They’re paying under false pretenses.”
I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m just saying I’d like to see their homework first.