Pension Financing Shortfall Is a Threat on the Horizon for State

Publication: The New York Times

Author: David Greising

04/23/2010 - In this Tea Party age, when thousands of people demonstrate nationwide against high taxes, the 15,000 people who rallied in Springfield last week tried a change-of-pace chant. "Raise My Taxes!" they shouted at the television cameras and any lawmakers who happened by.

The clamor over the state's estimated $13 billion budget deficit–and concerns over jobs and spending that prompted the protests–tends to drown out discussion of an issue that economists identify as perhaps the biggest long-term threat to Illinois' financial health: The state's shortfall of at least $61 billion in pension funding and the lack of any realistic plan to catch up.


"Illinois is clearly at the top of the list in terms of states that have a funding problem for their pensions," said Susan K. Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States. In a nationwide study, Pew found that Illinois' 54 percent funding of pension obligations is lower than any state in the nation.

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