Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » Lightfoot statement rated “Mostly False”
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Lightfoot statement rated “Mostly False”

Monday, Sep 9, 2019

* Setup from Politifact

“We’ve got 600-plus police and fire pensions Downstate that are on the cusp of insolvency because they don’t have the revenues that they need to be able to keep those pensions going,” [Mayor Lori Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times]. “They’ve done all the things that we have done historically: raised property taxes, sold assets, had their ratings reduced by rating agencies, and they’re out of levers to pull, so they need help just as we do. So this isn’t a Chicago-specific thing.”

Um, no.

* The backtrack

“I think highlighting that there are lots of police and fire pension systems that are underfunded is accurate,” said Amanda Kass, associate director of the Government Finance Research Center at the University of Illinois-Chicago. “I don’t think it’s accurate to indicate that the majority are on the brink of insolvency.” […]

“The mayor’s point that municipalities throughout the state are struggling with their pension obligations is an important one,” spokeswoman Anel Ruiz wrote in an email. “Approximately 30% of the 632 public safety pension funds in the state are currently funded at ratios of under 50 percent, according to the Department of Insurance.”

That math tracks with the DOI data included in the commission’s report. For comparison, Chicago’s police and fire pensions are both funded at levels below 25%. Just 25 Downstate public safety funds have a ratio lower than that, records show.

It’s difficult to say your city’s pension funds are just like everyone else’s when only 4 percent of Downstate and suburban funds are worse off than your two biggest problems.

…Adding… From comments…

(W)hat has confused me about her “this is a solution for everyone” framing is that I don’t understand what she is proposing that will help downstate towns at the same time as Chicago. Is she suggesting that the real estate transfer tax be raised everywhere, not just Chicago?

* And then there’s this

Peoria, for example, faced down a $20 million pension gap by cutting its city workforce by about 16 percent — eliminating 22 firefighter positions and 16 police jobs to close its $6 million budget hole.

Downstate, Carterville raised property taxes by 30 percent last year to help cover a shortfall created by a state mandate.

Kankakee increased its municipal sales tax to help pay off its pension tab.

And even little Alton (population: less than 30,000) had to take action: it sold off its water treatment plant for about $54 million to help pay down its unfunded pension liabilities.

Of course, Chicago is much larger and a central pillar of the state’s economy, but lawmakers up for re-election may not see it in purely economic terms. Helping the Windy City gives rhetorical ammunition to political opponents looking to needle incumbents who might approve any kind of a tax hike when so many others were left to fend for themselves.

“Little Alton” is about the same size as Kankakee and both are much larger than Carterville, but you get the drift.

* Also, the property taxes in, say, Rockford (a city mentioned more than once by Lightfoot) are significantly higher than they are in Chicago. Rockford didn’t wait for the state.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

30 Comments »
  1. - Montrose - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    Aside from what she said being false, what has confused me about her “this is a solution for everyone” framing is that I don’t understand what she is proposing that will help downstate towns at the same time as Chicago. Is she suggesting that the real estate transfer tax be raised everywhere, not just Chicago?

    I feel like she grabbed on to a talking point because she convinced herself it sounds good without any idea how that (false) talking point would actually help her nonexistent strategy.


  2. - former southerner - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 12:25 pm:

    When the facts aren’t on your side, then resort to lies and extreme exaggeration. Seems to work well for a lot of politicians.


  3. - Not a Billionaire - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 12:31 pm:

    Actually tiny Monmouth raised its property taxes even though it could have taken the under 25000 route.


  4. - Roman - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 12:31 pm:

    == Chicago’s police and fire pensions are both funded at levels below 25%. Just 25 Downstate public safety funds have a ratio lower than that. ==

    True, but that is not necessarily the best way to measure the financial stress being placed on suburban and downstate towns. Many have funding ratios higher that 25%, but they actually carry more debt than Chicago when measured as a portion of their operating revenues.

    I guess I’m nitpicking a bit, but that’s what the BGA does with many of these fact checks, so while in Rome…


  5. - Roman - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    == Rockford didn’t wait for the state. ==

    Actually, they pointed to legacy costs a few years ago and asked the GA for relief related to fire safety minimum manning requirements. They couldn’t get their bill out of committee, so they had little left to do except raise property taxes. I’m guessing the same fate awaits Mayor Lightfoot’s request for help.


  6. - Chicagonk - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 12:59 pm:

    @Roman - The state handcuffs municipalities with so many regulations, it makes it almost impossible to reform. Chicago and Cook County do tend to get exempted more than most, but I always get frustrated by state politicians that like to wash their hands of Chicago and other cities problems when they it is convenient to do so.


  7. - Earnest - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 1:16 pm:

    >We’ve got 600-plus police and fire pensions Downstate…

    I appreciate the fact that she attempted to take a page from Pritzker’s book and relate the challenges facing Chicago to those of other cities in the state. I don’t get the sense that it’s part of some kind of thought out, cohesive strategy to accomplish some kind of thought out, cohesive solution.


  8. - Sue - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 1:28 pm:

    Lori must not know Chicago teachers was 104 percent funded in 1995 before Daley’s pension holiday. Why should the State bail out Chicago for what was a decision to forego a decade of mismanagement


  9. - Boone's is Back - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 1:45 pm:

    She may have some of the details wrong but the broader point remains true, it’s a massive problem for municipalities across the state. Look at the lengths those towns went to in order to keep up with their pension payments.

    Think that’s going to get easier as the years go by?


  10. - Token Conservative - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 1:53 pm:

    She’s pulling a very Trumpian move. Tell a lie about downstate enough times that the Chicago media will repeat it enough and Chicago legislators repeat it enough that it won’t be her problem when downstate gets screwed.


  11. - Roman - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:05 pm:

    == The state handcuffs municipalities with so many regulations ==

    True, although the state didn’t mandate they pay the ARC on public safety pensions for decades, which is why we’re in this mess.

    == Lori must not know Chicago teachers was 104 funded in 1995 before Daley’s pension holiday. Why should the State bail out Chicago for what was a decision to forego a decade of mismanagement ==

    Different pension fund and different unit of government, but to the larger point, it should be noted that it was a pension holiday delivered by Jim Edgar and a GOP dominated GA. (Chicago legislators voted against it.) In other words, state and local government have work hand-in-hand in screwing up local pensions.


  12. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:24 pm:

    I suppose going through the very lengthy DOI biennial report on public pensions could provide something for everyone, depending on their moral elasticity.
    But the main, in my view, is that government services are deteriorating in many areas and taxes are increasing in hard times to fund a very generous public retirement system benefitting about 600,000 gov workers, according to the DOI, when the vast majority of the state’s private citizens don’t have anything even close for their golden years.
    There’s a tough fairness issue here regardless of who you want to blame for plan underfunding, which certainly cannot include most voters.


  13. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:28 pm:

    When do folks start discussing the social justice issue of about 600,000 public sector defined benefit plan participants receiving retirements benefits that the majority of Illinoisans can only dream about?


  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:30 pm:

    ===When do folks start discussing the social justice issue of about 600,000 public sector defined benefit plan participants receiving retirements benefits that the majority of Illinoisans can only dream about?===

    They could work in civil service.

    Who is stopping them?


  15. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:33 pm:

    All 12 million of them OW?


  16. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:35 pm:

    ===All 12 million of them===

    The question was who is stopping them?

    People make choices on their jobs and careers every day.

    Some of the very same folks who complain about teachers’ benefits, would never want to be a teacher…

    So… that’s a life choice.


  17. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:40 pm:

    ===All 12 million of them===

    How many would like to be prison guards?

    I’m guessing less than 12 million


  18. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:43 pm:

    OW. Certainly people make life choices. But acquiescing to gov officials’ mismanagement of retirement plans and then foisting the cost on them decades down the road is not one of them. Everyday folks foolishly believe in some baseline level of competence, ethics and morality of their gov officials. I guess from a gov person’s perspective, this the penalty for their naivete.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:47 pm:

    ===Certainly people make life choices. But acquiescing to gov officials’ mismanagement of retirement plans…===

    The workers made the payments the to the plans…

    The pensions are guaranteed.


  20. - Montrose - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:51 pm:

    “When do folks start discussing the social justice issue of about 600,000 public sector defined benefit plan participants receiving retirements benefits that the majority of Illinoisans can only dream about?”

    A very good point. We really need a strategic effort to get the private sector to follow government and provide retirement benefits that honor a person’s years of service. How people are treated after a lifetime of work in the private sector is an injustice.


  21. - JB13 - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:51 pm:

    Madame Mayor is simply trying to find any kind of solution that doesn’t compel measures that leave a very large number of city residents wondering why they should continue to live in a place where taxes are high, businesses are leaving and crime is such a problem that they’re told they just need to deal with being carjacked and burglarized.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 2:52 pm:

    ===Everyday folks foolishly believe in some baseline level of competence, ethics and morality of their gov officials.===

    They were elected.


  23. - don the legend - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    Montrose says “A very good point. We really need a strategic effort to get the private sector to follow government and provide retirement benefits that honor a person’s years of service. How people are treated after a lifetime of work in the private sector is an injustice.”

    Amen. Imagine if all people after a working career could have the peace of mind knowing they will be protected. We would all pay more for goods and services but all of our neighbors would have the protection of a defined benefit.


  24. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 3:10 pm:

    1 in 9 Illinoisans is either paying into a public retirement fund or receiving benefits. About one in five households. No one, not even Bruce Rauner, believes those families have failed to make their payments into the system.

    The Fair Tax would ask more of about 1 in 33 families, who have enjoyed one of the lowest income tax rates in the country for decades.

    If the wealthy succeed in defeating the fair tax, the only option on the table will be raising taxes on the rich, poor and middle class alike.

    You can believe if you like that the flat tax makes it harder to raise taxes. But ask yourself at what cost? We created this massive pension debt, shortchanged schools for two decades, allowed roads, hospitals and mental health clinics to fall into disrepair, became over-reliant on property taxes, made hosts of other shortsighted decisions rather than raise taxes back in 1994 to close the structural budget deficit. Would that we had, with a fair tax, and we’d doubtless be better off now.


  25. - Sue - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 3:42 pm:

    Thomas Paine- if you really believe the 3 billion of added revenues that Pritzker’s “fair tax” will deliver solves the State’s fiscal issues- then you must also believe all the BS coming from President trump. The so called fair tax is just the first of several tax hits Pritzker will need and they won’t be limited to the top 3 percent


  26. - don the legend - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 4:03 pm:

    Sue says “if you really believe the 3 billion of added revenues that Pritzker’s “fair tax” will deliver solves the State’s fiscal issues- then you must also believe all the BS coming from President trump. The so called fair tax is just the first of several tax hits Pritzker will need and they won’t be limited to the top 3 percent”

    With respect, if you are correct then what to do? Nothing? Raise the appropriate amount of revenue and fund our obligations in real time? Keep borrowing and pass the responsibility to pay onto future generations?

    I vote the second choice.


  27. - James - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 5:10 pm:

    The most successful lawyers do extensive preparation before they go before a judge or jury and speak. Mayor Lightfoot has a reputation for being a successful lawyer, a litigator, at the highest level. Yet many of her public comments as Mayor have shown a disturbing lack of preparation.


  28. - revvedup - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 5:29 pm:

    Here comes the hard sell for yet another special deal for Chicago, and Lightfoot can’t make the sale. Trying to equate Chicago’s pension mess with the rest of the State fails on points mentioned by others–yet she keeps doing it. JB and Legislature so far ain’t biting on her hook. To parody a campaign ad, “Is She Thinking??”


  29. - Token Conservative - Monday, Sep 9, 19 @ 5:57 pm:

    ==The Fair Tax would ask more of about 1 in 33 families, who have enjoyed one of the lowest income tax rates in the country for decades.==

    Our tax system is fair now. You make more, you pay more.


  30. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 9:39 am:

    ==Our tax system is fair now. You make more, you pay more.==
    You can call it graduated income tax if you like.


TrackBack URI

This is not Facebook, so uncivil comments, profanity of any kind, rumors and anonymous commenters will not be tolerated and will likely result in banishment.



* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* More post-Mapes cleanup by Madigan
* "80 percent of success is just showing up"
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser list
* Madigan creates 20-member gun violence task force
* Looking on the bright side
* *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Another update to today's edition
* Seeing what they want to see
* Question of the day
* It comes down to trust
* Simple solutions are usually neither
* Pritzker wants "actionable scenario" from agencies on potential cuts, other reductions
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Update to today's edition
* In super-rare move, two aldermen sponsored tax break resolutions worth millions for Burke's clients
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............


Loading


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0
WordPress




Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller