The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Illinois's Blue Robin Hoods Stealing from the Young to Give to the Old

After pension reform went down in flames last week, Illinois moved to Plan B: war on the young. Governor Pat Quinn’s administration claims that the upcoming budget will include major cutbacks on state services to make room for a $1 billion increase in pension spending. Most notably, education spending will decrease by $400 million, which would make 2013 the third straight year in which education spending has dropped. The Chicago Tribune reports (h/t Instapundit):

“The explosive growth in the state pension payments means every other part of the budget has less money,” said Abdon Pallasch, Quinn’s budget spokesman. “The pain’s going to get worse and worse every year before we fix this pension problem.”

The money pressure is intensifying at a fast clip. The standard annual pension costs are expected to rise from about $5.2 billion this year to $6.2 billion in the new budget that begins July 1, but the overall cost is even higher. The total pension drain could hit almost $7.9 billion—about one-fourth of the state’s operating budget. The higher figure includes $1.66 billion in repayments of loans taken out to cover annual pension costs in previous years.

Sticking it to either group, the young or the old, isn’t appealing, but the boomers are politically organized and better positioned to fight for their interests, particularly because powerful unions are on their side. The young, by contrast, are among the least politically active groups in the country, making them much easier for politicians to ignore. Illinois has obviously chosen the path of least resistance.

If there’s a clearer illustration of the blue war on the young, we have yet to see it.

Published on January 18, 2013 1:00 pm