Illinois lawmakers have varying opinions on the significant shortfall for state-run pension plans.
A Wirepoints report found that Chicago and Cook County's pensions and retiree health shortfall were $122 billion, while state pension obligation bonds were $9 billion.
"Overpromising and underfunding the main causes," Rep. Dan Caulkins told the Chambana Sun when asked what was the cause of the problems. "The problem that we have is the politicians promised the world to get reelected, and they’re not here when the bill comes. Keep making the promise and public sector unions keep electing the same folks. Getting close to point time have to figure out how to pay the bills."
Caulkins was then asked about potential solutions to the shortfall.
"I think there has to be a will to fix," Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. "Problem I see is retirees don’t want anything to happen to their benefits. Now 23 to 25% of our income goes to pension, and that’s going to grow. If we don’t have an honest discussion, the fallout will be severe. There needs to be an honest discussion and admission that the current funding mechanism in place isn’t sufficient to meet promises that have been made. There’s no room for taxpayers to increase their payments into these funds. There has to be a real solution to keep things solvent."
Is it possible without raising taxes?
"I think there are solutions," Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. "We talk around subject in GA about what we need to do. This cost of living increase is not sustainable. You can’t earn 3% and pay everyone a 3% percent pay raise every year. I think we have to stop the double dipping where people are able to come back and get a second and even third pension. You can end up earning two or three pensions over a lifetime, that’s something we need to seriously look at. All these things are discussions public sector unions aren’t willing to have."
The report found that state retiree health insurance shortfalls hit $55 billion, and noted that taxpayers in the state are on the hook for a total of $530 billion in debts.
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