* From a press release by the Pension Fairness for Illinois Communities Coalition, which is a group of mayors demanding pension benefit reductions for police and firefighters…
According to a 2013 study by the bipartisan Commission of Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), unfunded liabilities for police and fire pension funds statewide have “skyrocketed eight-fold” since 1991, growing from $953 million to $7.58 billion by 2010. This dramatic increase has occurred despite taxpayer contributions growing nearly four-fold since 2000 ($172.1 million to $629.2 million) according to Illinois Department of Insurance data. […]
It’s not hard to see how costs add up and strain municipal budgets as years of overly generous benefit increases have also led to the instability of public safety pension funds. Those added benefits received approval but municipalities were never provided additional funding to adequately cover the increased costs.
For instance, in Illinois, police officers and firefighters can retire at age 50, and collect up to 75 percent of their earnings with a 3 percent annual compounded cost-of-living increase, for the rest of his or her life. Furthermore, surviving spouses will continue to receive 100 percent of the pension benefit for the rest of their life beyond that.
In addition, the state has a remarkable 660 individual police and fire pension boards with a total of 3,300 trustees, the most of any state. These pension boards, comprised of a majority representing public safety employees with limited professional expertise to oversee investments, provide little – if any – accountability for taxpayers, which leads to inefficiencies when it comes to managing a combined $10.7 billion in assets.
* From the SJ-R…
With a population of nearly 200,000 and a booming Hispanic population, Aurora is now the state’s second largest city. It faces a required increase of more than $1 million into the police and fire pension funds each year for the next 25 years.
The city has $220 million in unfunded debt between the two funds but also has one of the better funding levels at around 60 percent. Nonetheless, Weisner said it means they have not been able to hire new police and firefighters and have laid off some city workers.
“Without some reform there’s going to be cities that basically, I believe, will be going under,” he said.
* But this headline is right below that story in the SJ-R…
Springfield firefighters scramble to battle 3 fires in hour’s time
If you thought passing pension reform over the objections of AFSCME and the teachers was tough, you ain’t seen nothing until you try to defeat the firefighters. They are well organized and hugely popular with the public.