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Illinois Wins Gold in Can-Kicking Competition


In an astounding feat of government sclerosis, the legislature facing the deepest deficit and lowest credit rating of any US state is set to punt yet again on the source of its misery: public pensions. Governor Pat Quinn began the year with a demand that the legislature do something, anything, about the state’s $173 billion pension liability. Every legislative session since has ended the same way. Fail. Fail. Fail. Reuters reports:

Illinois’s state legislature is unlikely to vote on a long-awaited pension reform in its current session that ends this week but could do so before the next one starts in January, spokespersons for legislative leaders said on Monday.

Some forward progress is reported in efforts to tackle the pension problem, with new reform proposals being sent late last week to pension system actuaries for analysis, according to Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“The speaker said once there is an agreement he’s prepared to reconvene (the legislature) at any time,” Brown said.…

The Democrat-controlled legislature’s last official session of the year is scheduled to start on Tuesday and end on Thursday.

The citizens of Illinois can look forward to more cuts in vital state services as their public officials find it even harder to get access to credit and run out of treasury funds from which to borrow. And the longer the dithering goes on, the worse it’s going to get: “Still, inaction on benefits reforms more than outweighs the modest (adjusted net pension liability) decline and leaves severe pension deficits as the main credit pressure for Illinois, the lowest-rated U.S. state,” said Moody’s.

[State Capitol of Illinois image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Anthony

    Above is real consequence of cronyism, machine politics, corruption, and 30 plus years of “combine” politics in state. Also, see:

  • Jane the Actuary

    According to Illinois’ legislators, this isn’t a “crisis” so can-kicking is perfectly fine. They’ve pretty much said that unless bankruptcy is staring them in the face, they won’t act.

    Quite some time ago, I wrote up my own pet solution —
    — and then tried to “follow the rules” of writing my legislator, writing a letter-to-the-editor, etc. No interest. But gay marriage? That’s urgent and pressing.

    • Kevin

      My guess is fixing the pension problem would hurt the legislators running for reelection in 2014. I don’t expect to see any meaningful reform before then. After that they will reassess whether kicking the can past 2016 will work.

      The voters of IL have shown no serious desire to punish legislators for failing to address this issue while the public sector unions can be expected to crucify them if they do, why should they act?

      When the voters change their behavior the politicians will quickly change theirs.

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