But in fact, it's much worse. Because our elected officials have been unwilling to make the tough decisions necessary to save our state, Illinois and its pension funds now have nearly $200 billion in debt triggered by years of mismanagement of our state pension systems.
The pension crisis has grown so severe that, under current circumstances, it is unfixable.The truth is that it is no longer possible to preserve the pension benefits expected by retirees and current employees.
It is a hard truth, albeit an honest one. Something every Illinois employee and taxpayer should know, but won't hear from elected leaders. The Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago delivered this message to the Governor as well as a list of key reforms to help minimize the long-term damage.
In the past, a number of measures have been proposed by legislators - some a guise for real reform, others simply ineffective - all of them half measures that do not and will not fix our pension crisis.
Unfortunately, there are real people like you whose lives are being harmed. Public workers who dutifully pay into their pension funds each and every paycheck. Students who deserve a good education, but are seeing state education funding cut. And taxpayers who desire basic services such as public safety, health care and other social programs. Because of the magnitude of our state's unfunded pension obligations, there simply isn't enough money to go around.
As the Illinois General Assembly prepares to meet in December and January, we encourage members to legislate meaningful pension reform. Half measures are not reform and are not acceptable. Our state deserves more. You deserve more.