Illinois' pension crisis is more fearsome than union flacks want us to believe

Among the union flacks is one Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a think tank well funded by Illinois public employee unions.

Martire was brought in by three liberal Illinois state lawmakers at a Evanston town hall to explain, clarify or propagandize (take your choice) the Democratic solution to Illinois' crushing pension problem. Which amounts to more taxes, spending, borrowing and related ruinous non-solutions.

The only problem for Martire was that an actuary  was in the audience and he punched deadly holes into the Democrat's scam. I invite everyone to read the argumentation of Mitchell I. Serota, Ph.D., a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, in which he, among other things, reveals that the real unfunded pension obligation of Illinois' five public employee pension funds is more like $250 billion, not the often stated $140 billion. (I've previously written about this here.) Where the hell will Illinois find a quarter of a trillion dollars?

I also liked Serota's response to the Democrats' demand that the Illinois Constitution must be amended to allow a graduated state income tax. If so, Serota argued, the referendum required to approve the change also should include a provision that eliminates the nearly unique constitutional provision that public employee pension benefits must never, not ever, be diminished--the principle reason for Illinois' financial mess. The two amendments, Serota wrote, must be paired in the same referendum question, so they that sink or swim together. (I've also suggested such a grant bargain, here, here and here.

By the way, I was drawn to Serota's response by reading Wirepoints fine article by Mark Glennon, "Legislators’ ‘Town Hall’ Becomes Metaphor For Failing Illinois. Keep up the great work, Wirepoints.

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  • Thanks, Dennis. This whole issue needs more light on it -- it only grows worse in the dark.

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