That's $267 billion, or $56,000 for each and every Illinois household, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. That means if Illinois is going to give all government retirees--state and local--everything to which they are entitled as the state constitution, Democrats and unions demand, every Illinois household will have to cough up an additional $56,000 in taxes. An impossible task, unless the payments are spread out over several generations.
How do you like them numbers?
Wait a minute. Haven't the media been using a much smaller number, something like just over $100 billion? Well, yes. But they haven't been telling the full story. Here it is:
The debt, as recalculated by the Illinois Policy Institute, consists of nearly $190 billion in all state and local pension shortfalls. What that doesn't include is more than $56 billion in unfunded health insurance benefits for retired state workers. Reported the Institute:
But pension debt is only part of the story. Although less publicized, Illinois has also taken on billions of dollars in debt to provide health insurance to government pensioners. The state now has an unfunded liability of more than $56.4 billion for these generous health insurance benefits.
Career retirees from state government and public universities pay little toward the cost of their health insurance. These retirees receive health insurance through the State Employees’ Group Insurance Program, or SEGIP, which operates as the state’s largest retiree health insurance program. Although the General Assembly gave Gov. Pat Quinn the authority to increase retirees’ share of premiums in this program, the governor made only minor changes. Taxpayers still pick up most of the tab. In fiscal year 2014, the state paid nearly $900 million for this benefit.
Gag. I wasn't aware of that extra indebtedness and I'll be that 99 out of 100 Illinoisans didn't either. Democrats keep talking about the need for a tax increase and Gov. Bruce Rauner also would accept if the Democrats would agree to some (pared down) of his reforms. But even what they're talking about would barely take a small bit out of that debt.
But that's not all. Local governments have their own problems:
The pension crisis is overwhelming at the local level, too. Local governments in Illinois owe nearly $69 billion in unfunded retirement debt.
Chicagoans are the worst off. Not only are they on the hook for state debt, but many of their local and county governments have also amassed large amounts of debt.
The city of Chicago alone owes nearly $23 billion in unfunded pension and health care debt, up nearly 60 percent compared with 2010. Chicago Public Schools’ pension debt, now at nearly $10 billion, has increased 78 percent. And Cook County’s pension debt has grown by 79 percent since 2010.
Will it ever stop?
Find out what freelance editorial services I can provide for you.