Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Promises with a price"

We knew it was bad, but we have one more study that says it’s really bad. The Pew Center on the States published a report comparing all 50 states that says, “Illinois has double the trouble.” This state has one of the poorest-funded pension systems in the country, and it repeatedly fails to set aside enough money to pay for public employee pensions. The second whammy is that Illinois also has failed to put aside money for health care benefits promised to state retirees. The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago estimates that price tag reaches $48 billion. (I wrote about the long-term cost of retiree health benefits in April 2007.)

Here’s the Pew Foundation’s fact sheet for Illinois.

It’ll only get worse because of rising health care costs and increasing numbers of state retirees, which was the subject of the Illinois comptroller’s January Fiscal Focus.

Oddly enough, the Illinois House approved a non-binding resolution six months ago that urges Illinois to resolve pension reform and debt before the legislative session adjourns for good in 2007. Well, the session never adjourned, so I guess they don’t have to solve anything this year.

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