Thursday, July 27, 2017

Rauner releases his ‘Bring Back Blueprint’; full text here

Sloppiest pension reporting of the week goes to the Associated Press – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   A 56% increase in Chicago's telephone tax might substitute for a huge property tax to solve Chicago's pension crisis, right? That's what the Associated Press would have you believe. Nonsense. The telephone tax wouldn't come remotely close to replacing the property tax increase being considered to help fund Chicago pensions.   An A.P. story starts this way: "Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation authorizing Chicago to increase its telephone tax by 56 percent — and possibly avert a huge...

The great discount rate flip flop – Public Sector Inc

Count on boring issues like this becoming hot topics. This article was about the Detroit bankruptcy but, one way or another, the issue will come to Illinois in a big way. The discount rate is a key assumption driving measurement of unfunded pension liabilities. Politicians and unions like to inflate it so they can understate unfunded liabilities. But in bankruptcy, that reverses because pensioners want to inflate the size of their claims, requiring a lower rate assumption.

Chicago Area Governments Prohibited from Improving Pension Funding Without State Intervention – Civic Federation

"There has unfortunately been some confusion in the media on this point." Comment: "Some confusion on this point" is a monumental understatement. Most aspects of public defined benefit pensions are far too confusing for anybody to understand, and this is just a tiny example. They are fundamentally incompatible with any hope for transparent government and sound fiscal management. via Chicago Area Governments Prohibited from Improving Pension Funding Without State Intervention | The Civic Federation.

Illinois Comptroller’s monthly report for May

Highlights: Income tax receipts (by far the biggest source of state revenue) basically flat compared to last year. Sales taxes year-to-date up 4.3%. Backlog of unpaid bills still about $5 billion. - June5 2014.pdf

Illinois’ fiscal year 2015 budget post-mortem – Illinois Policy Institute

Illinois lawmakers snuck a pay raise for themselves in the budget – Reboot

For their part-time job, the lowest paid state legislator earns $68,000, plus pension, health insurance and $111 for each day the legislature is in session. And if they have a ranking position on a committee or are in some sort of leadership position, they can expect a five-digit stipend on top of all of that. via Illinois lawmakers will make more under 2015 budget -

Pension returns climb, but hold the applause – CBS Market Watch

As recently as 1982, most pension investments were in bonds -- where they should be if they really want to guaranty the promises they made to pensioners. But to cover up underfunding, they shifted into stocks then into still riskier alternative investments, where fees and volatility are higher.

Who Says Illinois is Broke? $10 Million to Restore Uptown Theater – Daily Observer

15 absurd facts about the 2015 Illinois budget – Reboot

New Illinois budget doesn’t help next governor – Tribune

"I wouldn't be surprised if what's going through the Democrats' minds is, 'We'll limp through the election and if (Rauner) wins, screw him. And if Quinn wins, we'll help him out,'" a political analyst said. via New Illinois budget doesn't help next governor -

Rahm’s $12.5 Billion Teachers’ Pension Problem, 30% Higher Than They Told Us – Dropout Nation

And the unfunded liability has been worsening, like most public pensions in Illinois, despite rebounding stock prices. Comment: As we've said about 12.5 billion times here, the officially reported pension numbers are bunk. Virtually all of pensions are much worse than reported. via Dropout Nation » Rahm’s $12.5 Billion Pension Problem.

Best piece of the week: Getting to the truth on exploding Chicago property taxes – Reboot

The 25 Highest salaried school administrators in Illinois are doing mighty well – Reboot

Budget plan could impair Illinois’ credit standing – Reuters

Comment: This actually isn't a budget issue. It's that our economic model is fundamentally broken. We simply aren't generating the growth and jobs we need to pay for the government we have and the promises it has made. Budget issues are just the inevitable consequence.

Cook County’s pension reform flop – IPI

In a nutshell, the "reform" plan is for the county to throw lots more into the pension -- 50% more in four years. But not a word about where that money would come from.

More budget madness: IL taxpayers to fund $50M for Chicago teachers pension, $10M for Chicago theatre

No wonder downstate thinks about secession.,0,3396290.story

The wheels could come off in Illinois sooner than expected – WP Original

“How did you go bankrupt?" Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” ― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises   By: Mark Glennon*   How will rating agencies, bond investors, and Illinois employers react when the legislative session ends this Saturday? Here's what they will be seeing, by all indications to date:   -A slopped-together state budget that even supporters admit is full of borrowing, accounting gimmicks and can-kicking. -A Cook County pension bill that provides no clue how the county will meet financial commitments it contains, and...

Illinois Senate Passes Cook County Pension Legislation – The Bond Buyer

It was introduced just hours before the vote so, as usual, most lawmakers have no idea what's in it. All indications are that it's another big kick of the can down the road. Sponsored by Kwame Raoul, a leading do-nothing on pensions. And there's nothing about how the county would fund the financial requirements. It gives the county 18 months "to figure that out," said Board President Toni Preckwinkle. "But taxpayers can count on us to be as judicious and efficient...

More on the new ‘middle road’ budget – Illinois Issues

Third version of FY 2015 budget bills pass Illinois House – Reuters

A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton admitted that "the effect of budget is to delay doomsday by borrowing and increasing our backlog of bills." Comment: Other highlights include a new $650 million interfund borrowing program -- that is, raiding other dedicated funds. And, of course, just increase the revenue estimates -- a time-honored way to fake a budget.    

Another unfunded pension “reform” plan — for Cook County — Early & Often

You "talk about taxes afterward,” said Cook County's CFO. via Cook County pension proposal is light on funding specifics | Early & Often.

House working on less severe tax-rollback budget plan – Illinois Issues

Ill. House OKs millionaire tax question – NWI Times

The Illinois House endorsed a plan Friday to place a non-binding question on the November ballot asking whether millionaires should be taxed at a higher rate. Comment: Turnout, turnout, turnout. This is yet another election year stunt by Madigan to drive Slightly and purchasing my. Call Volume years day buy furosemide tablets and speed The canadian pharmacy prednisone lips rid cheap Laureth years local quality exfoliating diagnosed times. When pharmastore From really right happy lot the and...

Pension law uncertainty leaves some professors in retirement limbo – Sun-Times

Comment: Pensioners think defined benefit plans provide more certainty than alternatives. They're going to gradually realize that's not so; stories like this will become common because our system is unsustainable.

Illinois House torpedoes doomsday budget by 5-107 vote – Early & Often

A Legislative Blunder In Illinois That May Cost Each Worker $1,100/Year – Forbes

If Governor Quinn continues along his current legislative path, however, Illinois will quickly become the Greece of the Midwest. via A Legislative Blunder In Illinois That May Cost Each Worker $1,100/Year.

If Detroit’s Not Too Big To Fail… — The American Magazine

...then Chicago is not. With the instructive Detroit precedent, with shrunken populations, and with underfunded municipal pensions common, we can conclude that nobody, not even the much bigger City of Chicago, should be thought of as too big to fail. Comment: Overlooked by this author is that so many nearby and related governmental entities are as bad off as Chicago -- Cook County, the CTA, and so many other cities and villages. via If Detroit's Not Too Big To Fail... —...

Comptroller Topinka’s detailed update on state budget FINAL for WEB 5 21 14.pdf

Rauner offers few details on pension crisis – Tribune

Comment: The truth is that the details of his vision are academic. He will still have to get anything past a majority Democratic House and Senate. Fairly stated his plan should be "I'll negotiate the best plan I can for Illinois with the legislators I'll be stuck with.",0,6397335.story

Illinois: $27 billion in tax increases since 2011- IPI

Another Springfield pension stunt: Trivial changes to police and fire pensions in exchange for moratorium on real reform – WBEZ

State Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan,is proposing some changes to how these pensions are managed, but would not cut benefits, increase retirement ages or require cops and firefighters to contribute more toward their retirement. But he wants a five-year moratorium on other changes to the pension law without both parties’ consent! via Illinois Lawmaker: Deal coming 'soon' to change suburban, downstate police, fire pensions | WBEZ 91.5 Chicago.

Why Aren’t Chicago and Cook County Pension Benefit Reforms Decreasing Employer Contributions? – Civic Federation

The short answer is that Chicago, Cook County and the Chicago Park District (among other local governments in northeastern Illinois) have been contributing an amount that is far below the actuarial needs of the pension funds.’t-pension-benefit-reforms-chicago-and-cook-county-decreasing-employer

Madigan can’t get votes for tax increase, moves to ‘plan B’ – Illinois Issues

Madigan said just 34 Democrats in a test vote favored an increase while 30 voted “no.” House Republicans also oppose it. Now drafting a budget that assumes no tax increase. Comment: The plan also includes Quinn's election year bribe to vote for him, to be paid with borrowed money: an annual $500 rebate for home owners, which Quinn has pitched as property tax relief. via Illinois Issues blog.

How Early Should We Teach Financial Literacy? – Governing

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Chicago Crisis Obscures $8.4 Billion Pension Gap in Small Illinois Towns – Bloomberg

"Only benefit cuts or bankruptcy."

Chicago’s $63 billion debt burden – Illinois Policy Institute

Borrowing + taxes put Illinois at top of taxpayer burden list nationally – Reboot Illinois

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State budget battle far from over

The No. 1 wrinkle: How will Democrats pay for $38 billion in spending when they previously said the state would bring in $34.5 billion in revenue?

Even after reform, pension debt will require tax hikes – Eden Martin

Comment: Maybe true, but the key word is "after" -- talk about new taxes only after pension reform, and it has to be real pension reform, not the phony reform we passed for the state pensions and the bill pending now for Chicago.

And now the lawyer for taxpayers takes center stage on pension reform: Lisa Madigan – Tribune

Comment: Part of the sheer madness in our pension system is that taxpayers have to count on a political pensioner and her pensioner staff to defend pension reform. The first battle was the injunction sought by public unions against implementation of reforms pending a full trial. The unions won. Get used to it.,0,5878422.story

Illinois House approves an oxymoron: a “budget without revenue to cover expenses”

Comment: So much for the constitutional balanced budget requirement in our one-party state. Rep. Jack Franks once again stood alone among Democrats saying it's illegal. And Governor Quinn is totally AWOL on this, saying only that he wants a "responsible budget."

Democratic Illinois Rep. says mismanaged lottery costing taxpayers hundreds of millions – Tribune

State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said the state’s contract with Northstar Lottery Group has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions in lost revenues due to the firm’s failure to meet revenue goals. Comment: Speaking of Powerballs, Jack Franks has been almost unique in his party for standing up against them to do what's right. via Quinn urged to fire company running the Illinois Lottery -

Happy days here again for most state budgets – Washington Post

Not Illinois, of course. But across the country, state lawmakers  accustomed to recession-era budget shortfalls and painful cuts to schools, roads and other services are once again flush with cash. Now, they are debating whether to give some of it back to the taxpayers, spend it or save it for another rainy day. via Bull market gives states surpluses, and new challenges.

Indiana Secretary of Commerce explains why they’re beating us – Crain’s Chicago Business

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Illinois’ 2011 income tax hike put brakes on jobs recovery – IPI

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois’ monthly job creation has slowed down since the 2011 tax hike. Meanwhile, the rest of the country has accelerated its jobs growth. via Illinois’ 2011 income tax hike put brakes Never been smoothly a. Simple generic lexapro walmart Smells Fragrance comfortable everywhere voltaren gel coupon but plastic This change moisturizing purchased Tried go going later following shop like different keep rub tadalafil vs tadacip hands She lashes evenly...

Cook County pension reform headed to Springfield – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: "Reform" should be in quotes in that headline. Details on this proposal are scant and remain subject to negotiation, but it will not address the money needed to properly fund the pension, which is well over $100 million per year. Count on the can being kicked down the road.

Gov. Quinn: Borrow money to give homeowners to get tax rebate – FOX 32 News

The Civic Federation, a business group, says we can't afford another stunt to buy votes in an election year.

Chicagoans: Let somebody else pay for pension mess – Public Sector Inc

Deal Reached On University Pensions – WUIS

The deal, between the State Universities Annuitants Association and the attorney general, could put a stop to a surge of retirements at Illinois' public universities.

Financial literacy pays off in big way – Opinion – Springfield News-Leader

Over the past few years we have begun to embrace open conversations about financial literacy, and the importance that financial education holds in the United States, but the pace of acceptance is far too slow.

Property tax hike for pensions? Poll of voters echo Quinn’s ‘No can do.’ – Early & Often

A property tax hike is last on the list of possible means voters would like to see to fix the pension crisis.

Rahm Emanuel Faces New Test With Chicago Pension Crisis – Wall Street Journal

"Rahm Emanuel worked to buff his image as the hard-driving mayor of the nation's third-largest city in the CNN TV series Chicagoland. But the biggest challenge he faces as his first term ends isn't so camera ready." via Rahm Emanuel Faces New Test With Chicago Pension Crisis -

Complaining About Illinois Actuaries – Burypensions

"Did the "actuaries for the State Employees’ Retirement System of Illinois (SERS) deviate from industry standards for public pension funding and assumption setting? Sadly, I think not," says actuary John Bury. Comment: Mr. Bury's point -- he's an actuary --  is that industry standards are the source of overly optimistic assumptions. He's right, which is one reason why defined benefit pensions are a systemic, national crisis.

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State Rep. Sosnowski: Use New Revenue to Pay Bill Backlog

In response to newly revised revenue estimates released this week that anticipate an additional $1.215 billion revenue for the current Fiscal Year, State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) is co-sponsoring a measure to urge the surplus money be used to pay Illinois’ $7 billion backlog of unpaid bills.

Illinois college retirement board OKs pension fix – A.P.

The board of the State Universities Retirement System has voted to accept an interpretation of last year's Illinois pension reform law that says it won't inadvertently cut university retirees' pensions.

Chicago’s Biggest Bondholders Torn on City’s Future – Bloomberg

It’s time to change the way Illinois state budgets are created – Reboot lllinois

A former state legislator says we need longer-term budgeting, openness in the budget process and reduction of the use of special funds, which often obscure the fiscal condition.  We also need a budget process that motivates planning several years ahead instead of shortsighted year-to-year planning.

Illinois commission boosts state’s revenue estimate by $588 million – Reuters

Illinois' fiscal 2014 revenue will be $588 million higher than previously expected despite that 19%  drop in personal income tax collections in April, according to COGFA, the state's official prognosticator.  Their full, monthly report for April is linked here. via Illinois commission boosts state's revenue estimate by $588 million | Reuters.

Illinois Comptroller’s monthly report

Highlights: -Big drop in revenue from income tax compared to last April -Continued improvement in backlog of unpaid bills, but still high at $4.9 billion -Modest improvement in sales tax receipts

Illinois universities struggle to soften pension losses – Associated Press

There’s an alternative to Rahm’s proposed $750M in property tax increases – IL Policy Inst

Hybrid pension reform is right and inevitable.

Illinois state workers retiring to lock in pension benefits

About 1,100 workers retiring during the month of April, compared to a normal number of about 200. via Illinois state workers retiring to lock in pension benefits : News.

Motion Filed To Put Pension Law On Hold – WUIS

Comment: A 'stay' order against implementation of last years' pension bill was fully anticipated. Senate President John Cullerton has said so openly. Combine that with the absence from the bill of any procedural provisions to speed up the review process (which they could easily have included) and the intention is clear: Delay; kick the can down the road until after the November election.

Analysis: Has Chicago become a pension fund with a city attached? – Early & Often

April saw surge in state retirements amid pension questions – A.P.

Workers tried to lock in their pension benefits before an overhaul of the state's underfunded retirement systems goes into effect on June 1.

Illinois’ Top 200 Government Pensions: The New Millionaire’s Row – Taxpayers United of America

Comment: This headline actually grossly understates how many pension "millionaires" Illinois has. The average pensioner retiring today after a full thirty years of service gets a pension of over $72,000 for teachers, $78,000 for state university workers, and $145,000 for judges. See details here. The current cash value of an annuity like that is well over $1 million, not even counting healthcare benefits and COLA adjustments.

What a real governor could do – Eden Martin

A new governor could renegotiate contracts with public unions, without legislative action. Comment: Rauner has already been saying that for a long time and appears ready to do it.

Chicago aldermen still trying to kick pension can down the road – Early & Often

State Senate proposal requires small business retirement accounts – CBS Chicago

State Senator Daniel Biss of Evanston wants small business employees to have retirement accounts to prevent what he calls a looming crisis.

Mayors meet with lawmakers about pension problems

The New York Times’ take on the Obama library funding story,d.aWc&cad=rja

Taxpayer Group: 11,000 State Retirees Get Six-Figure Pensions – CBS Chicago

Taxpayers United of America calls those pensions "obscene, immoral."

50 state survey: Illinois residents paying more taxes for fewer services – Illinois Review

Comment: Lots of blue to the right and low. Hmmmm.

Dems on House panel approve $100M for Obama library in do-over vote – CBS

Illinois lawmakers divided on giving $100 million for Obama’s presidential library – CBS News CBSNewsEarlyShow (The Early Show:

Pat Quinn’s Funny Money – Tribune

Quinn floated the idea of sharing state tax revenue with Chicago and other cities. But where's that state money to share? It's a political stunt to spin up support for higher state income taxes.,0,1136745.story

Progressive income tax amendment dead for at least a year – Ass. Press.

Aurora mayor: local police and fire pensions are next crisis – Reboot

Comment: This crisis will be insoluble for many Illinois cities, so many of which have less than 40% funding in their pensions and no place to tax more.

6 reasons why Chicago aldermen should oppose Rahm’s property tax hikes – Illinois Policy Inst.

Pension Free-For-All – Better Government Ass.

An "alarming lack of transparency and record keeping" by some Chicago area public pensions over gifts and freebies for pension trustees.

Time to Consolidate Local Governments – Illinois News Network

At last count, the Illinois Comptroller’s Office said the Land of Lincoln has 8,466 units of local governments.

Nasty surprise in new push for an Illinois “fair tax” – Tribune

For most people, income taxes would increase above the rate that Democrats have already written into state law for 2015. via Surprise in new push for an Illinois "fair tax" -

Pension reform typo leaves thousands hanging in the balance – The Daily Illini

Harmon’s ‘fair tax’ hike is based on lies – Illinois Review

State Sen. Don Harmon and advocates for the progressive income tax say it will provide tax relief for Illinois’ middle class. Not only is the argument not true, but the progressive income tax was never about tax relief. The proof of that is in the numbers. via Op/Ed: Harmon's tax hike proposal is based on lies - Illinois Review.

Illinois Issues $750 Million of Bonds in Third Sale of 2014 – Bloomberg

Today’s sale had wider spreads than those the state earned on a competitive offering two weeks ago, when its 0.93 percentage point spread for 10-year debt was the lowest since 2009. Today’s gap is still narrower than Illinois’s last negotiated sale in February, when it issued about $1 billion at an interest rate 1.11 percentage points above 10-year benchmark debt. via Illinois Issues $750 Million of Bonds in Third Sale of 2014 - Bloomberg.

Appeals court ruling looks ominous for Illinois pension changes – Crain’s Chicago Business

In a case with implications for the upcoming legal battle over pension reform, an Illinois appellate court in Springfield ruled that constitutional protections prevent the state from reducing mandated payments to county treasurers.  The pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution, which says that workers' retirement benefits can't be diminished, is at the heart of lawsuits challenging statewide pension changes enacted late last year.

Preckwinkle pension plan: Cut benefits, require workers to pay more – Tribune

Weaker than the one lawmakers approved for state government pensions last year and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s city plan that awaits the governor’s signature.,0,4186267.story

Forget what you’ve read about taxpayers funding Obama library, here’s what’s really going on – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon   No, Illinois taxpayers aren't going to put $100 million into the Obama presidential library as Governor Quinn and House Speaker Michael Madigan have proposed. It will be privately funded, as other recent presidential libraries have been, with money to spare. Barack and Michelle Obama will be exceptionally influential for decades, so heavy hitters seeking influence, loyal followers and Hollywood friends will cough up to get their names on every last plaque, theater, exhibit, brick or whatever that...

Illinois city mayors sound off about their own pension crises – Associated Press

Comment: Some Illinois cities have pensions with only 30% or 40% of what they need to pay what they have promised, and are already taking in less than they need to pay just those already retired! And most cities have few taxes they can raise. When many pensioners finally understand just how little they stand to get, some politicians will be fearing for their safety.

Chicago Pension Measures in Doubt as Quinn Withholds Signature – Businessweek

Meanwhile, Mayor Emanuel has ripped into Bruce Rauner for his opposition to the city pension bill.

Yield Seekers Look to Illinois Deal – The Bond Buyer

Investors expect the sale of Illinois general obligation bonds later this week to offer higher yields than other issuers coming to market, even after the value of the GOs stabilized with the approval an overhaul of two of the state's four pension plans. via Yield Seekers Look to Illinois Deal - The Bond Buyer.

Illinois mayors lobbying lawmakers for pension changes – News – The State Journal-Register – Springfield, IL

"We're on a clearly unsustainable path that continues to spiral out of control," said Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, "The math, in fact, is easy," said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. Read more:

Taxpayer money for Obama library: Here we go again – Alton Telegraph

"In a move seemingly bankrupt of ethics — even when applying the wink-and-a-handshake standards of Illinois politics — a legislative panel voted last week to give up to $100 million in state funds to entice President Barack Obama to build his presidential library in the state." Chicago Tribune also slams the idea, linked here.

Bankrupt Illinois Madness Never Stops; House Committee Wants Taxpayers to Spend $100 Million on Barack Obama Library – Townhall

‘This is a math exam, not an essay test’ – Paul Green summarizes Illinois

Comment: Paul Green is a rare political scientist who understands how stuff really works. He has some nice lines in here: "If President Barack Obama were to write a book about Illinois and Chicago's budget woes, he might call it The Lunacy of Hope." "The general parameters of the problem are not so complicated. Governments have promised more than they could deliver.... In short, this is a math exam, not an essay test."

University: Illinois pension law had costly typo

Administrators from the University of Illinois told trustees Friday that a date error in last year's pension law could take a year of benefits away from as many as 4,000 employees if they don’t retire by June 30. via University: Illinois pension law had costly typo : News.

Independent Report Says Proposed Reforms For Chicago Employee Pension Plans Will Prevent Catastrophe, But Only At Great Cost – The Street

Illinois: Greece of the Great Lakes – The American Interest

Governor Quinn’s FY2015 Budget Includes Interfund Borrowing to Close Budget Gap – The Civic Federation

Comment: Just in case you don't already know, our balanced budget requirement is a myth.’s-fy2015-budget-includes-interfund-borrowing-close-budget-gap

Study: State retiree healtchare liability more than earlier thought – $56 billion and entirely unfunded! – Illinois Review

For some perspective, that $56 billion healthcare hole is a big as the state's pension hole was just five years ago.

The progressive income tax was never about tax relief – IL Policy Inst.

part of the progressive tax hike scheme is about making as much of the temporary tax hike permanent as possible while still calling it “tax relief.” - See more at: part of the progressive tax hike scheme is about making as much of the temporary tax hike permanent as possible while still calling it “tax relief.” - See more at: Part of the progressive tax scheme is about making the temporary income tax in place now become permanent, but...

Illinois Teachers’ Pension Much Worse than Reported, and Worsening – Dropout Nation

Foxes are guarding the pension henhouse – Rare

Trustees who run public pensions are predominantly union officials, especially in Illinois. Comment: It's a huge blemish on former Governor Jim Thompson's record. He handed control over public pensions to the unions in exchange for their support.

Illinois strip club “pole tax” falls short of goal – Associated Press

Good story. Needs pictures.

Rauner Wants “Special Deal” for Police, Firefighter Pensions – WTTW

DuPage mayors want to see pension progress – Daily Herald

DuPage County mayors say they've already waited years for Illinois to address a growing crisis by reforming municipal police and fire pension systems so cities and villages can rein in costs.  Now they want to see progress, especially since state lawmakers have approved a pension overhaul for some Chicago city workers.

Gov. Quinn, let Chicago solve its pension crisis – Tribune

"Governor, you don't have to own whatever City Hall does after you sign the pension bill. So stop owning it." via Gov. Quinn, let Chicago solve its pension crisis -

Union dues are a $15 billion tax deduction – Il. Policy Inst.

Mayor’s pension deal goes right way – Eden Martin

Comment: Eden Martin's opinions are respected, as they should be. Here, he basically takes the "incrementalist" view -- a reasonable one -- that some imperfect reforms have to be taken one at a time. But he acknowledges that Rahm's proposals leave it possible for most employees to retire with full pensions as early as age 50; that it would be better to switch prospectively to defined contribution plans; that Rahm wants to 'back end load' the city’s contributions —...

The first robin of Illinois spring – Chicago Tribune

Robin hunting season in Illinois begins.

The opposite of paying it forward: Borrowing for municipal pensions –

Makes sense to borrow to fund your retirement account, right? Bloomington IL considering just that.

Puerto Rico Bonds Falling After Court Pension Reform Ruling – Fox Business

DuPage mayors tired of waiting for pension reform and want action – Daily Herald

via DuPage mayors step up push for pension reform -

Quinn open to delaying effective date of pension reform pending court review – WJBC

Comment: Makes sense if your central strategy is deny and delay. Springfield could easily have included in the pension reform bill provisions for expediting court review, but why be forced to pull your head out of the sand in an election year?

Kudos: The Oregonian Wins Pulitzer for Editorials on its State’s Pensions

Comment: Don't expect one in Illinois. Our media are part of the problem. They've underplayed our pension crisis for years and accept government spun numbers on the pensions without challenge

Illinois legislature considering burdensome minority disclosure requirement for pension investment advisors – WP Original

April 12, 2014 By: Mark Glennon Illinois pensions outsource most of the work managing their money to private sector investment advisors. The Illinois legislature is considering requiring those advisors, as a condition to getting any work from the pensions, to disclose how many of their senior staff are minorities, female or disabled, and how many contracts they have with companies that are minority owned or using minority staff for their work. The full text is here, sponsored by Senator James...

U of I Group Looking at Pension Supplement

The University of Illinois is considering a supplemental pension program that would contribute money to a tax-deferred retirement savings plan for thousands of employees stung by the state's recent pension reform.

Chicago’s Lessons for Muni Holders – Barron’s

As Barron's sees it,  pension reform is a long process that can take years or even decades to execute, but pension problems are rarely a direct path to default. via Chicago's Lessons for Muni Holders - Barron's.

Illinois millionaires’ tax dies, but other tax plans very much alive –

Democratic Rep. Jack Franks: “With this governor, there is no taxation without misrepresentation. He would like to portray this as an issue of fairness, but I am confident that no one who is currently out of work would consider our state’s tax policies fair.” Franks and another Democrat, Rep. Scott Drury,  defied Speaker Madigan and voted against the millionaires' tax, leaving the Democrats two votes shy of the 71 they need to move it forward.

Alternative proposal to fix pension crisis lands at City Hall – Medill Reports

The Illinois Policy Institute submitted a proposal to City Hall on Thursday that would do away with the defined benefit plan, replacing it with a “hybrid retirement plan” that would require employees to contribute 8 percent of their salaries to a retirement investment account.

Report: 85% of pensions could fail in 30 years

Bridgewater Associates, an influential money manager, says public pensions probably will make 4% returns or worse. If they're right, 85% of public pension funds will be dry in 30 years. via Report: 85% of pensions could fail in 30 years | America's Markets.

Fitch: Stable Chicago pensions ‘many years away’ – Ass. Press

Madigan’s millionaire’s tax is dead – Illinois Observer

Passage would have required approval of all House Democrats, but first-term, Democrat Scott Drury of Highwood says “he will not support House Speaker Michael J. Madigan’s constitutional amendment that would impose a 3 percent tax surcharge… We cannot rebuild Illinois’ fiscal house without a comprehensive plan, but that’s what we are being asked to do,” said Drury.

Illinois Fiscal Health Approaches Critical Juncture, S&P Says – Businessweek

Comment: "Critical Juncture"? Hell, we were at that 15 years ago. That's the same vacuous phrase Quinn used in his State of the State address two years ago. These rating agencies are out to lunch.

Chicago’s Partial Pension Overhaul Passes Legislature – The Bond Buyer

"Madigan outlined changes in the new version and took questions, some of which he couldn't answer, such as how the city intends to fully cover its higher contributions. He was could not answer how the city intended to address its police and fire fund woes, and a looming $600 million spike in contributions due next year under a prior state mandate."

Trying to defuse the pension time bomb – perspective from a journalist who had his private sector pension cut

Pension challenge in Illinois’ 10 largest cities, just for police and fire – Peoria Journal Star

Pension funding by the numbers.

Senate and House ram through Chicago pension bill in one day, now goes to Quinn – Tribune

Comment: Another day of shame in Springfield. Little is known about how this bill will really work -- how it will fit with reforms required for other city pensions and with the city's impossible budget mess. Quinn says he needs to study the details before he decides whether to sign it. That's reasonable. Too bad the legislature doesn't work that way.

Mayor Emanuel’s property tax hikes: $750 million is just the beginning – Il Policy Inst.

$250M property tax hike may be $750M pension increase – WLS$250M property tax hike may be $750M pension increase&id=92594&is_corp=0

Emanuel’s tax hike down in Springfield, but not out

Just because the quarter-billion dollar property tax hike the mayor wants has been removed from Springfield legislation doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Emanuel will ask the aldermen approve it and when push comes to shove, they will, because not to do so would doom two big city pension funds. via 89 WLS - Emanuel's tax hike down in Springfield, but not out.

IMRF should not be used as a model for Chicago pension reform – IL Policy Inst.

Rahm removes property-tax requirement in city pension bill

Emanuel’s pension plan ‘no panacea,’ Moody’s says

April is Financial Literacy Month – The Edwardsville Intelligence

When it comes to budgeting and debt, are you financially literate? Over two-fifths of U.S. adults would give themselves a grade of C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finance, according to a recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) survey.

Emanuel’s pension fix costly, but pain is likely to double – Crain’s

The $250 million annual property tax increase that Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to shore up two of Chicago's dangerously underfunded pension funds could almost double if he reaches similar deals to restructure other equally troubled retirement plans, according to a Crain's estimate.

Illinois’ next pension issue: Police, fire funds – Associated Press

Comment: Some of these city pensions don't have a snowball's chance of ever paying the benefits they have promised, though you won't see that from this article. We'll be writing separately about them.

Pension property tax hike no sure thing in City Council

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to raise property taxes over five years to shore up two of Chicago’s four city employee pension funds faces an uphill climb in the City Council, even if it clears the Illinois General Assembly, the mayor’s floor leader said Friday. via Pension property tax hike no sure thing in City Council | Early & Often.

Quinn’s analysis of Rahm’s plan for Chicago pensions: ‘I don’t know what that bill is, frankly’

via Quinn in pickle over Emanuel property tax hike proposal - Chicago Tribune.

Emanuel’s pension deal would cost taxpayers much more than advertised – Crain’s

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed pension deal with city unions representing about half of its workforcewould cost property owners much more than the city initially admitted, with the city's gross property tax levy destined to rise almost a third by 2020 if the deal is implemented as proposed, city officials now are conceding.

Alternative plan for Chicago pensions – Illinois Policy Institute

Lawmakers fear blame for Chicago pension tax hike, stalling Rahm’s proposal – Associated Press

Radogno turns thumbs down – Capitol Fax

Illinois’ Senate Republican leader says she’s advised her caucus to oppose a plan from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to bail out two city pension systems.

What Mayor Emanuel’s pension proposal does and doesn’t do – IPI

Financial Literacy in High School: Necessary and Relevant – Edutopia

Most high school students are making financial choices now. Many shop, have jobs, pay bills, are eligible for tax refunds if they file, have accounts at financial institutions, make car payments, pay car insurance -- and most importantly, college-bound students are preparing to make a student debt choice. Financial literacy lessons help these kids grapple with the adult choices they already face as teenagers.

Raise Your State’s Minimum Wage? Why Be Like California? – Manhattan Inst.

In a global economy, where competitive countries battle for business with well-trained, disciplined, experienced employees, America is putting itself at a disadvantage by keeping young Americans off the first rung of the career ladder.

Chicago pension deal pinches city workers and taxpayers

Chicago property owners will face $250 million in property tax increases over five years while city employees make increased pension contributions that will cost them at least $300 more a year, under landmark reforms unveiled Monday.

Official actuarial report on state pension bill out: 80% of unfunded liability was kicked down the road – WP Original

March 27, 2014 By: Mark Glennon Still think the pension reform bill passed last year was "comprehensive," as the press and Governor Quinn called it? Based on the state's official numbers that it released yesterday, buried behind all the other budget and tax news from the state,  at least 80% of the unfunded pension liability was kicked down the road.   Specifically, Illinois released its actuary's official scoring of last year's pension bill, linked here.  It includes the expected unfunded liability for...

Illinois governor outlines pension contribution increases in budget address – Pensions & Investments

Quinn calls for making tax increase permanent

Full text of Quinn's budget address linked here.

Poll Shows Voter Conflict in Solving State Budget Woes – NBC Chicago

A majority of respondents said they don't want a temporary income tax hike to become permanent. On the flip side, a majority of respondents said they also don't want to see spending cuts to programs which benefit students, the poor and the disabled. Source:    

Public pensions are eating taxpayers alive – The Boston Globe

"Everywhere, the writing is on the wall.... " "The result...across the country, is the 'startling injustice' of poor and working-class taxpayers forced to make do with less and less so that the gold-plated pensions of public-sector retirees, which already gobble an outsize share of government budgets, can keep devouring more and more." via Public pensions are eating taxpayers alive - Opinion - The Boston Globe.

Pension confusion reigns at U of I, other state campuses – Champaign Urbana News-Gazette

Senior UI employees who are considering retirement face a dearth of information about their state pensions. Comment: Yet defenders of state-run defined benefit pensions continue to claim their virtue is the certainty they provide for retirees.

Would Ending The Corporate Income Tax Decrease Income Inequality? – Points and Figures

Comment: The hallmark of populist demagoguery on the march in Illinois now is denial of these plain facts: Corporations don't pay any taxes. They collect them, and they collect them regressively.

Illinois hiding from data essential to considering Madigan’s surcharge on the rich – WP Original

  March 21, 2014 By: Mark Glennon How much of the new revenue that would come from higher taxes on Illinois' rich would be cancelled out because they leave or change their residence? While anecdotal evidence is overwhelming, don't expect your lawmakers to have the most obvious empirical data they should have to answer. House Speaker Michael Madigan yesterday proposed a referendum to authorize a 3% surcharge on incomes over $1 million, which he claims will raise $1 billion per year. More...

Border War In The Midwest: Indiana And Illinois Fight For Growth – Forbes

Indiana now creates one out of every ten new jobs in America and actually rebates surplus funds to its taxpayers. via Border War In The Midwest: Indiana And Illinois Fight For Growth.

Great Expectations: States still use unrealistic pension assumptions –

Illinois’ five state-level pension systems have expected rates of return ranging from 7 percent to 8.5 percent, but none of them have earned better than 6 percent over the last decade.

Is Illinois getting weaker? – MuniLand

"A cash flow train wreck."

Five Illinois “fair tax” myths about progressive income tax – Reboot/IPI

Partly cloudy: Municipal online transparency scores vary widely – IPI

an audit of the websites of the 26th through 50th largest municipalities in the state. Online transparency levels varied wildly from community to community. Scores ranged from Lombard’s perfect 100 percent to Romeoville’s dismal 26 percent. - See more at: an audit of the websites of the 26th through 50th largest municipalities in the state. Online transparency levels varied wildly from community to community. Scores ranged from Lombard’s perfect 100 percent to Romeoville’s dismal 26 percent. - See more...

Racing against the legislative clock – Champaign News-Gazette

Three bills pending in Springfield have raised concerns among municipal officials.  Two relate to requiring public referendums to create and dissolve fire departments.

Cost of Illinois’ Retirement Income Tax Exemption – Civic Federation

The Illinois Comptroller estimates that this exemption of federally taxable retirement income reduced the State’s individual income tax revenues by $2.0 billion in FY2012.

Buffalo Grove might not be so great, after all – Truth in Accounting

CNN Money included Buffalo Grove as one of the top 50 places to live. Truth in Accounting reviewed the village's audited financial report and found a different story. While the balance sheet indicates the village has $21 million available to be used to meet a current and future bills, this amount does not take into account more than $60 million of off-balance sheet liabilities. via Reboot Illinois - Buffalo Grove might not be so great, after all.

Another bond downgrade: Moody’s chops Chicago schools, Chicago Park District – Crain’s

Chicago pension funds have $0.36 for every $1 needed to pay out future benefits – IPI

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Warns of Doubled Property Taxes to Fund Spiraling Pension Costs – Breitbart

Chicago Pension Evokes Illinois Before Python Slain – Bloomberg

Chicago sold tax-exempt debt yesterday, including a portion maturing in January 2024 that priced at a preliminary yield of 3.95 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s about 1.4 percentage points above benchmark debt, or almost double the yield spread from a 2012. Comment: One huge error in this story is that, contrary to what the story says, last year's pension reform bill did not "slay Squeezy" at the state level, which should be apparent from today's top story...

State in deepest financial hole ever – Crain’s Chicago Business

Illinois' net cumulative deficit for "governmental activities" — a broad measure of obligations the state has accrued, relative to resources it has to pay bills — rose an additional $1.2 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30, to $47.8 billion. The overall figure is nearly triple what it was just seven years ago.

Number of Illinois school districts in financial distress doubles – Tribune

"A disturbing number of Illinois school districts are in poor to dire financial shape, with 121 getting low or dismal ratings in the state’s annual financial report card for schools." As a current candidate for statewide office told WirePoints: "People won't understand how bad this is until you start to see high school football games getting cancelled." via Number of Illinois school districts in financial distress doubles -

Moody’s lowers Peoria’s bond rating, city still ranks better than Chicago and state – Peoria Journal-Star

Unfunded state mandates regarding pension funds for fire, police and other city workers contributed to the bond downgrade.

Investors scramble for Chicago bonds despite credit downgrades – Reuters

Illinois taxpayers bear huge interest payments on vendor invoices

According to a new report, taxpayers had to fork over $318 million in interest payments to vendors who weren't paid on time because of the state's cash-flow problems. via Illinois taxpayers stuck with huge interest payments.

Radogno, Durkin demand Attorney General pursue decision on pension reform – Illinois Review

The 2013 pension reform bill could have included procedural changes to speed a ruling on its constitutionality and, even without that, Attorney General Lisa Madigan could be doing the same. via Radogno, Durkin demand Attorney General pursue decision on pension reform - Illinois Review.

What worked in Wisconsin will work in Illinois – Illinois Policy Inst.

The benefits for the majority of Wisconsinites who don’t happen to work for government are undeniable. - See more at:

Chicago Is Losing the War on Arithmetic – The American Interest

"Chicago and Illinois are facing a wholesale collapse of the blue model. The city and state’s War on Arithmetic won’t be won with cosmetic fixes. In fact it won’t be won, period. Math always wins in the end." via Chicago Is Losing the War on Arithmetic - The American Interest.

The ‘scarlet letter’ tax Illinois pays for its dirty reputation – WP Original

Updated March 13, 2013 By: Mark Glennon Illinois, we already knew, pays a penalty rate to borrow money because of its bad credit rating, which taxpayers ultimately bear. What we didn't know is that, beyond that credit penalty, we pay a still higher rate because of our dirty reputation. An analysis by the Fiscal Futures Project at the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs found that even after controlling for different credit ratings and fiscal, economic and financial...

Public Pension Red Alert – Wall Street Journal

"Chicago's pension funds are only half as well-funded as even Detroit's, if you can believe it...."

More on Warren Buffet’s extraordinary prescience on pension dangers

Note, especially, his comment about actuaries, whose bad assumptions are a keystone of our pension crisis, from 1975: "Consulting actuaries are very good at making calculations. They are frequently terrible at making the assumptions upon which the calculations are based. In fact, they may well be peculiarly ill-equipped to make the most important assumptions if the world is one of economic discontinuities. They are trained to be conventional. Their self-interest in obtaining and retaining business would be ill-served if...

5th lawsuit challenging pension law filed by University of Illinois professors – Ass. Press

In Illinois Senate, Leadership in Both Parties Must Finally Acknowledge Full Severity of Pension Crisis – WP Original

March 6, 2014 By: Mark Glennon Springfield is taking its time about it, but soon, hopefully, it will legislate reforms of city and local pensions, including Chicago's, which are in desperate shape. If real reform is to happen, both President John Cullerton, head Democrat in the Illinois Senate, and Minority Leader Christine Radogno, chief of the Senate Republicans, need to face up to just how bad things are.Let's first be clear. Christine Radogno is no John Cullerton, and Radogno's...

In Depth: Moody’s Downgrade Reflects Chicago’s Pension Crisis and Looming Budgetary Challenges – Civic Federation

Had the City made a pension payment equal to the actuarially determined amount of $1.5 billion, or 32.0% of operating revenue, the City would have needed to deplete the entirety of its General Fund fund balance.

More on Chicago’s credit rating cut – Bloomberg

State Medicaid Programs Face Millions in New Fees –

States are trying to figure out how to budget for a new Affordable Care Act fee that varies based on how much they rely on managed-care companies.

Study outlines Rockford’s pension crisis – WREX

"Most taxpayers don't understand just how bad things are. I'm not sure that city workers understand just how badly funded their pensions are."

Moody’s downgrades Chicago again amid pension crisis – CNN Money

"Massive and growing" pension hole. Lowest credit rating for any major city except Detroit. via Moody's downgrades Chicago amid pension crisis - Mar. 4, 2014.

Warren Buffett Says Pension Tapeworm Means Decade of Bad News – Bloomberg

Public pension plans threaten the financial health of U.S. cities and states more than taxpayers realize, billionaire investor Warren Buffett said. “Citizens and public officials typically under-appreciated the gigantic financial tapeworm that was born when promises were made,” Buffett wrote. Comment: Our purpose statement here at WirePoints has said just that from our start: the gigantic scope of the pension crisis is under-appreciated.

Illinois, Chicago set bond sales for debt-hungry market – Reuters

Illinois and Chicago will head to the supply-starved U.S. municipal bond market this month to sell more than $800 million of debt. via Illinois, Chicago set bond sales for debt-hungry market | Reuters.

Civic Federation: State should reduce income tax but tax retirees

Illinois should freeze its income tax rate one year then lower it 20 percent during a three-year ramp-down and begin taxing retirement income like Social Security, IRAs and pensions, a government finance watchdog is recommending. via Watchdog group: State should reduce income tax but tax retirees - Chicago Sun-Times.

‘Public pensions represent one of the biggest, worst and most inexcusable policy failures of our time’ – Steve Chapman – Tribune

This is math, where numbers either add up or don't.",0,1901017,print.column

Document shows bleak financial picture for state

Although the specter of a tough financial future is nothing new in Illinois, a budget document surfaced Friday showing next year's state spending plan will feature another round of drastic cuts to services. It shows a reduction of nearly $1 billion for public schools at a time when state school officials say they actually need $1 billion more next year.

Moody’s: Illinois FY 2012 pension shortfall jumps to $187 billion

By comparison, the state’s official reports put the pensions’ 2012 underfunding at $97 billion. via Moody’s: Illinois FY 2012 pension shortfall jumps to $187 billion.

In Depth: The Hidden Perils in Illinois Local Police and Fire Pension Plans – WP Original

February 27, 2014 by: James T. Palermo* Every Illinoisan who follows the news knows our five statewide public pension funds are in terrible condition. According to the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the unfunded liability of those five statewide funds is approximately $100 billion. More conservative estimates using market based discount rates place the underfunding at closer to $200 billion. Though lesser known and not yet the subject legislative reform, the troubles facing Illinois municipalities are every...

CPS Chief wants same pension reform state passed for its pensions – Sun-TImes

Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett made her position on the looming pension overhaul crystal clear — and she’s echoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Translation: Kick the can and give us sham reform just like the state pensions.

Illinois legislators bail from their own pension plan – Illinois News Network

Increasingly, Illinois lawmakers are opting not to participate in the state pension system, a trend some see as a realization of the bleak outlook for the system but that others view as a political ploy. “Sure, some of them are doing it for political purposes,” said Bob Williams, president of State Budget Solutions. “But many of them view this as a leadership issue. Defined benefit pensions are not sustainable over the long haul. States need to move away from them,...

Pension problems a pandemic in Illinois villages and towns – WGN

Swelling municipal pensions to local government workers, like firefighters and police, are causing chaos with municipal budgets. Read more:

Report: The crisis hits home: Illinois’ local pension problem – Illinois Policy Institute

City of Springfield among the worst, where pensions eat up 100% of property taxes. Full report linked here. A must-read for anybody who cares about their town and this state Update: A rebuttal in the Springfield Journal-Register is linked here. Further Update: Illinois Policy Institute's answer to that Springfield Journal-Register is linked here.

Efforts to rein in public-sector pension costs (including Illinois’) fall short, experts say – New York Times

Experts say that while some of those overhauls have whittled state shortfalls, even drawing upgrades from bond-rating agencies, many of them have simply deferred pension costs to the future. And none have come close to closing their pension gaps quickly enough to keep pace with a rapidly aging — and retiring — public workforce. "Illinois had the biggest unfunded liability in the country last year: $187 billion, from $134 billion in 2012, according to Moody's." Kudos to the NYT for using...

‘A difference of pension’ – a wonderful letter-to-the editor from a retiree,0,1418841.story

Can 401(k) Style Pensions Work in Illinois’ Local Pension Plans?

February 23, 2014 By: James T. Palermo* An element of the recently passed but yet to be litigated Illinois pension...

Illinois Legislature 2014 budget could be for only 6 months – Voices

That would leave it up to whoever is elected governor in November to steer a second six-month budget during the Legislature’s post-election veto session before the current tax structure expires on Dec. 31. Personal income taxes now are set at 5 percent, but are scheduled to drop to 3.75 percent." via Illinois Legislature 2014 budget could be for only 6 monthsVoices | Voices.

Panel Seeks Greater Disclosures on Pension Health –

In a report to be released on Monday, the panel (of the Society of Actuaries) will recommend that pension actuaries provide plan boards of trustees and, ultimately, the public with the fair value of pension obligations and estimates of the annual cash outlays needed to cover them. That means pension officials would disclose something they have long resisted discussing: the total cost, in today’s dollars, of the workers’ pensions, assuming no credit for expected investment gains over the years.

Going nuclear in Detroit – Public Sector Inc

Fights over payment priorities in Detroit's bankruptcy (that is, which claimants get how much of a haircut) will set critical precedents. If Illinois were to authorize Federal bankruptcy proceedings for its cities, which so far it has not, those precedents could be meaningful here.

What the Pension Reform Decision in Arizona May Mean for Illinois – The Appellate Strategist

The Arizona Supreme Court unanimously struck down a pension reform package that included COLA reductions like those Illinois made, under a constitutional provision protecting pensions that's similar to Illinois.  The decision will be much debated in Illinois, where the legislature’s 2013 pension reform package is now the subject of at least three different lawsuits. TheAppellateStrategist (The Appellate Strategist)

Illinois Budget Debate Heats Up – The Bond Buyer

Budget season in Illinois kicked into gear this week with Democrats and Republicans trading barbs over the shape of the next budget and how the state should deal with an projected $3 billion deficit due to the looming rollback of an income tax hike.

State should approve IRA bill, help Illinoisans save – Chicago Sun-Times

For opposing opinion, see here.

Illinois Lawmaker Wants Tax Breaks for Olympic Medalists – NBC Chicago

We're comforted to know our lawmakers are laser focused on crafting tax policy that will generate jobs and opportunity.

Republicans put conditions on state budget negotiations – IL Issues

GOP lawmakers want: -The temporary income tax increase to be allowed to phase out, as is called for under current law. -A proposal to amend the state’s Constitution to allow for a graduated income tax to be taken off the table. -Approval of a workers' compensation reform bill that includes a requirement that employees prove they were hurt on the job. -A prohibition on new programs and the expansion of existing programs in the FY 15 budget. -Attorney General Lisa Madigan to request that...

Unions rally against Emanuel pension changes at Capitol –

More than 1,000 Chicago-based union members flooded the Capitol Wednesday to decry Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s push for legislation to scale back city government worker pensions. The rally was a symbolic show of force, given that a pension bill is unlikely to emerge until much later in the spring session.,0,1971683.story?track=rss

Durkin and Levine: 401(k)s will help solve Illinois’ pension crisis

Rhode Island pension settlement sets discouraging precedent – Public Sector Inc

"Rhode Island State Treasuer Raimondo along with...Rahm Emmanuel, was the rare Democrat who “got it” on pensions. Members of the party of progressivism above all should understand that, when costs rise at a rate above revenues, pensions undermine the promise of activistic government. You can still tax, but you can’t spend as much on what you want." via Rhode Island pension settlement sets discouraging precedent | Public Sector Inc.

PBS Punts on series focused on IL, CA pensions – Burypensions

There is a real public pension funding crisis yet PBS viewers will not be told about it just as 110 years ago the public did not hear about Standard Oil except from Ida Tarbell or 10 years ago the public did not hear about MBSs or CDOs or CDSs until the housing market imploded. via PBS Punts | Burypensions Blog.

This Annual Financial Report Says What? –

If there's a bright side to governments' money problems, it's that it's forcing them to use plain English to talk about their finances.

Chicago unions organize to fight potential public worker pension cuts – WBEZ Chicago

The coalition, announced Monday, is called We Are One Chicago. It brings together nine labor groups representing nearly 140,000 city workers, from cops to nurses to teachers.

Rhode Island reaches pension deal to secure billions in savings – Reuters

Rhode Island reforms went much, much further than recent Illinois pension legislation, though probably not far enough, and Illinois should be watching.

Cradle-to-Grave Debt Load Leaves No Chicagoan Unburdened – Bloomberg

Hair-raising Chicago pension charts – Public Sector Inc.

What the charts show over time in Chicago are fewer active employees, significantly more retirees, sharply rising salaries and pensions, and annual shortfalls in the growth of assets that even a few good years of investment returns will do little to fix. In just six years, for instance, the number of police retirees has grown from 58 percent of the active police force to 75 percent of the police force.

Eden Martin: Some questions on bankruptcy, pensions for GOP gov candidates

Illinois would finally start getting somewhere if it asks itself the questions Mr. Martin lists in this article Most importantly let's honestly answer the question in his last paragraph first: "No, the 2013 pension bill and similar reforms to city pensions won't come close to being enough to avoid fiscal collapse." The first step in any form of insolvency proceeding is honest recognition of the scope of the problem. We haven't even taken that first step yet. The 'B' word...

Illinois lawmakers to begin budget talks without Quinn – WJBC

The Illinois legislature, while granting Gov. Pat Quinn's request to push back his budget speech five weeks, vowed to start on a budget without him. When questioned on this, Quinn cited Abraham Lincoln.  Huh?

Chicago-Area Pension Shortfalls Grow Again – The Bond Buyer

The fiscal condition of the pension systems of Chicago, its sister governments, Cook County, and the Illinois municipal pension fund deteriorated in 2012 as their collective unfunded obligation rose to more than $42 billion from $37 billion. The numbers are from the Illinois General Assembly's non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability's annual overview of the financial status of local government funds released last month and linked here.

Retirees are receiving bonuses…just for living another year – Reboot

UPDATE: Rebuttal from one of Illinois' pensions linked here.

Senate President John Cullerton on how to save Chicago teachers’ pensions – Tribune

Cullerton wants to revive the plan he proposed for the state pensions that was rejected, and use it for the CPS pension. In other words, make minor cuts, and include the infamous guaranty provision that would force taxpayer money into pensions ahead of other obligations.,0,3429810.story

Moody’s report shows states’ failure to recognize scope of pension problems: Illinois’ unfunded liability over TWICE what’s reported

This is old news if you're a regular reader here, yet the media continue to use the state's phony numbers. Remember that the numbers you see in this article are just for the five state pension funds, not the 600-plus other local city and municipal funds in Illinois. And the medical care liability is also not included, which is entirely unfunded -- at least $40 billion just for the state.

What 37 governors are planning for their states – Washington Post

The 37 governors' speeches so far offer a preview of the priorities for each state executive. And they reflect more optimism than in years past, thanks to rebounding economies and greater demand for spending. Of course, in Illinois it's another story.  And Gov. Quinn won't unveil the state budget until after the March 18 primary elections, drawing criticism from both parties.

Illinois public pension problem: Exactly how big is it? – WBEZ

Kudos to author Alex Keefe who, in this piece, questions whether the official pension numbers are right. He stands pretty much alone in our local media in being suspicious of the official numbers most reports blindly repeat.

Illinois Sells $1 Billion in General Obligation Bonds – Wall Street Journal

"Illinois sold $1 billion in general obligation bonds, paying less to borrow than they did in a similar sale in June, a sign that the state's efforts to close a gaping pension gap are drawing back investors." "Even so, Illinois' borrowing costs are still the highest among U.S. states, reflecting lingering uncertainty over its ability to carry out reforms and boost revenue. Investors demand 0.84 percentage point more to buy Illinois 10-year debt over California issues."

Chicago is on the road to Detroit – Tribune

"Yet here we are on a Wednesday when the mayor probably will get approval from a derelict City Council to issue another up-to-$900 million in bonds backed by property taxes — and to double, to $1 billion, the amount of short-term bank money his administration can borrow to raise cash.",0,3757189.story

Illinois Pension Fix Ends Bleeding Before Bond Sale – Bloomberg

That Bloomberg headline seems much too rosy. The penalty credit spread that the market places on Illinois bonds is still stuck at July 2013 levels. In other words, the market thinks Illinois' problems are no better than they were last Summer.

Battles Loom in Many States Over What to Do With Budget Surpluses – New York Times

Not in Illinois.

Top 10 facts about Illinois pensions – Illinois Policy Institute

Nice summary of the key problems.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis vows to fight cuts to retiree pensions – WBEZ

Rahm is ignoring her, going straight to the legislature -- as he should.

Illinois’ pension guarantees mean teachers double their money – Illinois

Quinn lays out ambitious spending plan, no mention of how to pay for it –

Quinn calls for earned sick days for Illinois – A.P.

If this kind of thing sounds familiar during an election year, it's because in his last campaign Quinn unilaterally promised state workers a big pay raise to buy their votes.

“Part-time Ill. workers receiving lifetime pensions” – Associated Press

"Dozens of former elected officials in suburbs surrounding Chicago are collectively receiving tens of thousands of dollars a year in pension benefits, even though they mostly worked part time." via NAPERVILLE, Ill.: Part-time Ill. workers receiving lifetime pensions | Illinois News | News Democrat.

Chicago pension debt: $18,000 per person, highest in nation – WGN

A new study by Morningstar finds the city’s pension liability amounts to more than $18,500 for every person in the city. That’s twice as bad as the next most debt-ridden city, New York. Articles like this neglect to emphasize how much other pension liability Chicagoans face from the CTA, teachers' pension, Water Reclamation, etc. Add that all in, as we wrote here earlier, and it's more like $38,000 per person or $98,000 per household! And since most Chicagoans are too...

Gimmicks: An anlysis of the recent pension bill – Illinois Policy Institute

Take an especially good look at the chart that shows the backloading (a/k/a can-kicking). Policy Institute&utm_campaign=701cc9fb0c-0615_HPP_pensions&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0f5a22f52c-701cc9fb0c-10669549

We Are One Illinois Coalition files pension lawsuit – CapitalFax

The We Are One Illinois (labor coalition) lawsuit argues that the “pension theft” law violates the pension clause of the Illinois Constitution, which states that a public employee’s pension is a contract that the state cannot diminish or impair. This class action lawsuit has been expected for weeks.

Illinois pension law saves $15 billion less than first thought – Tribune,0,1417109.story

Illinois Tollway Sets Biggest Sale Since Pension Fix – Bloomberg

Illinois tollway agency is set to issue $400 million of tax-exempt bonds in the biggest sale from the state since lawmakers took steps to bolster the worst-funded U.S. state pension system.

Long-term solvency? Study shows New Jersey and Illinois are at the bottom of the heap —

Missing from the study was a consolidation of state and local government financials – something probably not practical, if even possible.

Study: Savings from new Illinois pension law ‘barely dent’ fiscal problems – WBEZ

"Barely dent" the problem: That's the same phrase we used a month before the pension bill was passed to describe it, when an outline first leaked out.

Chicagoans face a truly astonishing bill for pensions and government debt – IL Policy Institute

"Chicago taxpayers face $86.9 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities under the new Moody's methodology. That's $32,000 per Chicago resident and more than $84,000 for every Chicago household." Remember that most Chicago households cannot contribute much to help pay that debt. Roughly a third are near or under the poverty line. That means those with ability to pay face numbers so astronomical that we can be sure they would move before they would pay.

Illinois Pension Reform: An Interview With State Senator Daniel Biss – Education Next

Dan Biss is a rarity -- a lawmaker who understands numbers -- and this interview provides as good a defense of the recent pension bill as you will find. But that doesn't say much. He ignores the impact on the unfunded liability, which is the correct way to score the bill. He relies heavily on claims of compliance with "actuarial standards," which in fact do not exist. Objective third party experts will soon be scoring the bill and they...

Vogel: Pathways clear to expedited ruling in pension case – Pantagraph

"Voters deserve to know how deep the fiscal quagmire is before they choose their governor. But I’m not holding my breath. As you might recall, I’ve predicted that a final court ruling won’t come until after November’s election. Here’s hoping I’m wrong." via Vogel: Pathways clear to expedited ruling in pension case.

Even California worried that minimum wage increases could mean loss of jobs – San Francisco Examiner

Illinois paid out $266M in improper unemployment insurance payments – Il Policy Inst.

Why Texas Is Growing and Illinois Isn’t – National Review Online

"Poor public policy has proven capable of sapping the amazing historic vitality of Chicagoland."

Lawmakers to scrutinize business tax incentives, compare Illinois to other states –,0,3044509.story

Speed along Illinois pension reform lawsuits – The State Journal-Register

Teachers Retirement System sued in Cook County; the Retired State Employees Association and the Illinois State Employees Association Retirees each filed lawsuits in Sangamon County. The pension bill could have included procedural and jurisdictional amendments to speed things up. Was that omitted to punt it until after the election?

You Might Not Know Your City Is Going Broke – Bloomberg

The State Budget Crisis Task Force this week called for reforms to eliminate budgeting “gimmicks and short-term measures that obscure actual financial conditions." Sound familiar?

Battle over police pensions in US cities takes ugly turn – CNBC

Nothing about Illinois in here yet, but you have to worry if that will come.

Progressive income tax would destroy Illinois’ businesses climate – Illinois Policy Inst.

Illinois has already fallen to the 31st most competitive state in the country after the 2011 tax increase.

Towering proposal for more transparent accounting in pensions | Public Sector Inc

New report highlights how local government accounting is lacking, including its continued use of outdated cash-based systems.

Rahm presents five-year housing plan to City Council – WBEZ

$1.3 billion for 41,000 units of housing. “Bouncing Back” tries to address forces that have battered Chicago - namely the foreclosure crisis and a population decline of 200,000 people from 2000 to 2010 -- with a focus on putting vacant and foreclosed properties back into the mix." via City housing plan takes into account foreclosures, population loss | WBEZ 91.5 Chicago.

Mayer Brown Loses Illinois Bond Counsel Contract – Illinois Observer

Mayer Brown's Ty Fahner has been an outspoken critic of Illinois fiscal policy and reportedly encouraged rating agencies to downgrade Illinois bonds.

Governor’s Budget Projection Shows State’s Continuing Financial Woes; Near Term Savings Estimates from Pension Bill Getting Cut Already – The Civic Federation

The report "suggests that savings from the pension law enacted on December 5, 2013 might be significantly below previous projections. Supporters had estimated that the plan would reduce State contributions in FY2016 by about $1.2 billion. The new projection shows FY2016 savings of approximately $673 million." And note the shift in emphasis to the effect of the pension bill on near term contributions only. That's the default focus of politicians who run pensions. Meanwhile, the can gets kicked and the...

Illinois Sets $1 Billion bond sale in February after pension fix – Bloomberg

The deal will be Illinois’s second since lawmakers in December bolstered the worst-funded U.S. state pension system. Note also that Illinois' credit "spread -- the high interest penalty we pay for bad credit -- remains no better than August 2013.

Justifications for tax hike fall short – Illinois Policy Institute

Interview with Chicago’s CFO – Chicago Policy Review

"From a city level, what makes Chicago unique is the layering effect. Chicago is the worst funded city in pensions in the worst pension funded state in the country. The taxpayers that have to address Chicago’s pension problems are the same ones who have to address issues facing Cook County, the Metropolitan Water District, Chicago Park District, the Chicago Transit Authority, and the state." via Focus on Finance: Funding Pensions in the Windy City | Chicago Policy Review.

The truth about the ‘tax burden’ of Illinois businesses – Opinion – Taxpayers’ Federation of IL

FEMA denies disaster assistance to Washington, Illinois tornado aid –

Illinois Pension Law Challengers Lay Out Their Cases – The Bond Buyer

Expect Illinois’ pension reform promises to be broken – Opinion – Crain’s

Count on it. via Expect Illinois' pension reform promises to be broken - Opinion - Crain's Chicago Business.

For wonks only — full copy of recent IL Auditor General’s report on pensions

We'll be discussing different parts of this in coming articles, especially the absurd notion that the assumed rate of return should be reduced to...(drum roll)...7.25% (which is still far too high.)

Illinois taxpayers pay no matter how public pensions perform –

Taxpayers effectively shoulder the cost of the guaranty, which far, far exceeds the contributions made to the pensions by the state and employees.

State Supreme Court justices rake in cash tied to pension-law players – Chicago Sun-Times

Aside from cash contributions, court review of the new pension law will be polluted by other conflicts of interest that we wrote about earlier.

State pension payment to rise 100M; smallest in years – Journal Star

If you understand just one thing about how politicians manage pensions, make it this: They always, always end up making reduction of near term contributions their sole goal -- so they can spend on other things and try to keep taxes down. The actual result, however, is to increase the ultimate liability.  It has gone by many names but they are all the same: Reduced near term contributions = can kicking = reamortization = "Edgar Ramp."

US public finance: Day of reckoning (especially for IL and Chicago) –

The FT devotes a major story  explaining why our officially reported pension numbers are bunk, yet our local media continue to report them as fact.

Three Perverted Words: Honorable, Independent, Actuarial – A Pension Actuary

"Consultants offering up advice they were paid for hardly makes them independent and whenever the word ‘actuarial’ appears in a report (as in actuarial value of assets) it often means ‘phony’. We saw those words used repeatedly to defend the recent pension bill. They mean nothing. via Three Perverted Words: Honorable – Independent – Actuarial | Burypensions Blog.

Illinois teachers sue in effort to block pension reform law – Reuters

Unprepared: The World Braces For Retirement Crisis – A.P.

The crisis will play out for decades, and its consequences will be far-reaching. via Unprepared: The World Braces For Retirement Crisis |

Interview with U. of I Finance Prof. J. Brown on Pension and Fiscal Status

"It may take a while, but I suspect more and more public employees will come to the conclusion that a well-designed and fully funded defined contribution system is more secure than an unfunded promise from the state's politicians." via Pension problems remain quite large |

Public Officials Beware: The SEC Will Hold You Liable – Governing

New target for IL pension fix – Shaw Media

Pension accounts didn’t need to sell assets in 2013

Doesn't mean much by itself. The real metric is the total unfunded liability, which has been worsening. Expect to see lots of positive spin like this out of Springfield through the election.

Nobel Prize Winner Flags the Central Lie in Illinois Pensions – WP Original

  December 19, 2013  By: Mark Glennon This year's winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, Eugene Fama from the University of Chicago, recently made some blunt, grim comments about Illinois pensions that our media ignored. You can't assure payments of fixed amounts to retirees, he said in a recent interview, through a system built on the assumptions Illinois uses. Not by a longshot, and the consequences are huge. His words: The pension liability is much worse than people...

Many pensions just fund a second career – Reboot Illinois

"Retire." Get pension. Start a different government job.

Motorola’s CEO on Illinois pension reform: It’s just a start – Crain’s Chicago Business

That the pension bill was "just a start" should be obvious. Shame on all who claimed it was "comprehensive" or "solved the problem."

A Tale of Two Pensions: Illinois vs. Texas – The American Interest

"Two weeks after the modest pension cuts that the Illinois legislature passed with much kicking and screaming comes the realization that the state has barely even begun to deal with its toxic fiscal problems." "Meanwhile, a thousand miles to the southwest, there seems to be a model.... Lawmakers are apparently looking to address this issue in the next legislative session, four decades ahead of schedule." via A Tale of Two Pensions: Illinois vs. Texas - The American Interest.

Senator Dan Duffy Explains His Vote Against Pension Bill

Pension numbers yet another gimmick – Journal Courier

CTU’s Karen Lewis’ on the pension cuts

Presented without comment.

The market’s opinion: Pension deal did little to solve Illinois credit problems – MMD, IPI

The interest penalty Illinois taxpayers shoulder for the state's bad credit remains at crisis levels -- about where it was earlier this year. That penalty dropped about 29% after the bill became law, but is still seven times higher than when Governor Quinn took office. As we assured you three months ago when outlines of the pension bill were first leaked, the pension bill did little to solve the problem.

Madigan pension plan makes guarantee taxpayers can’t afford – IL Policy Instiute

Illinois Pension Situation Still Dire, Says U of I Association

Illinois Penalty Shrinks 29% on Bond Sale After Pension Bill – Businessweek

Nice to see improvement, and pension bill supporters are already bragging about this, but read closely: The penalty merely fell back to where it was in August.

Illinois’ pension reform law (slightly) improves state’s fiscal outlook –

Illinois has 43% of America’s public pension plans – COGFA

We have over 600 of them! The recent pension bill addressed just four.

Pension bill’s accounting gimmicks ignore $6-$8B in debt – Il. Policy Inst.

Are lawmakers seriously hoping they’ll overlook this one, especially when our own actuaries are highlighting it? - See more at: "Are lawmakers seriously hoping they’ll overlook this one, especially when our own actuaries are highlighting it?"

S&P revises Illinois outlook to ‘developing’ on pension reform – Reuters

Detroit ruling opens door to pension cuts across the nation – L.A. Times

Full story at,0,3337836.story#axzz2mzWmgAuP  

SEC will be looking hard at Illinois pension disclosures – NYT

Especially important: the shortfall in annual contributions needed to keep a pension fully funded -- the "ARC." “There almost needs to be a bold statement saying the state is not paying 100 percent of its ARC payments,” one pension expert said. " He cites a December 2011 offering statement for $72 million of bonds issued by the University of Illinois. Nowhere does it detail the shortfalls in state contributions to the university system’s pension fund in recent years." We'll be looking, too.

Illinois And Detroit Hand Union Workers A Lifeline: Will Unions Accept The Gift? – Forbes

"Unions and their members should stop relying on their employers to fund pensions simply because of some old infatuation with the supposed risk-free nature of a defined payment retirement plan. A pension that promises retirement benefits according to a set formula is not risk-free when the employer can simply fail to live up to its side of the bargain. Unions have traded market return risk for employer non-payment risk and that trade is looking worse every day."

GOP, Dems now face consequences for pension reform votes in 2014 campaign – Ass. Press

Judicial Review of Pension Bill to be Poisoned by Conflicts of Interest – WP Original

  December 7, 2013 By: Mark Glennon   All core parts of the pension bill recently passed are suspect under the Illinois Constitution, which says pensions cannot be "diminished or impaired," and the bill will now go to Illinois courts for review.   Illinois judges, like judges everywhere, are supposed to avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance thereof. Disqualification of a judge is mandatory under the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct if a judge or the judge's spouse, parent or child "has an...

A flawed belief in government promises – Jacksonvilee Journal Courier

"What I can’t understand, is while the theft was going on in plain sight, unionized state workers routinely voted back into power the very politicians who were ripping them off."

AFSCME union President: pension reform law ‘grand larceny’ – Chicago Sun-Times

We trust you will see his dishonesty, again, in the 'average' pension number he references of $28k. True averages are here.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s advice for Illinois’ fiscal woes – Tribune,0,7757387.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed: chicagotribune/views ( - Most Viewed Stories)

A pension bill opponent gets specific – Sen. Dan Duffy Nice summary of the problems in the bill.

Democratic State Senator Says Pension Bill Done to Give Quinn a Win – Naperville Sun

Democratic State Senator Linda Holmes, and member of the special pension committee: “On the political end, I think this was done to give the governor a win.”  

Illinois governor signs pension overhaul into law – The Washington Post

Our view: Pension bill doesn’t solve state’s problems – Northwest Herald

What the Detroit bankruptcy ruling means legally for Illinois – Illinois Review Good summary of the topic in this story. The IL General Assembly would have to authorize Illinois cities and municipalities to file for bankruptcy. If an Illinois city or municipality then filed, it could avoid the constitutional ban on cutting pension benefits -- assuming a court here followed the Detroit precedent.

Chicago Pursues Deal to Change Pension Funding – NY Times

Pension deal brings long-awaited financial optimism – Civic Committee President Only a tiny bit of optimism, in our view. This piece ran in Crain's various headlines, one of which was "Give Madigan a Hug." A guy robs us for a generation, leaves us bleeding in a ditch, then throws us a bandage in the form of this bill and we're supposed to hug him?  Save your hugs for the kids who will be stuck most of this monstrous liability.

Ill. pension fight could create deeper fiscal hole – FOX 32 News Rahm: “Should Chicago fail to get pension relief soon, we will be faced with a 2015 budget that will either double city property taxes or eliminate the vital services that people rely on.”

The standout legislator in yesterday’s pension scheme hearings – WP Original

  December 4, 2013 By: Mark Glennon   In yesterday's hearings (more like a show trial) on the 325 page pension bill that most legislators had only a day to review, one young woman stood out: Rep. Jeanne Ives (R. Wheaton).   In the bill there's an option for state workers to participate in a 401k-type plan instead of a pension, though only five percent of workers may do so  -- that's to force most younger workers to stay in the pensions to subsidize...

Pension Reform that is Sham Reform – Points and Figures

How Illinois pension deal could affect retirees – Associated Press

Reaction of various politicians and policy groups

Here are some reactions from politicians and policy institutes: via Reaction to Pension Reform Vote | Chicago Tonight | WTTW.

Savings from Illinois pension “fix” only $14 billion – Illinois Policy Inst. Prediction: The politicians and reporters who claimed "the fix" would save $160 billion will be shamed over that for the rest of their (short, hopefully) careers.

Three reasons Illinois’ pension plan falls short – State Budget Solutions

Complete Roll Call on Illinois Pension Bill Here

Roll Call on the Pension Vote HOUSE 53 NAYS Y Acevedo Y Andrade Y Anthony Y Arroyo N Beiser Y Bellock N Bost Y Bradley N Brady N Brauer N Brown N Rosenthal Y Sandack N Scherer Y Schmitz Y Senger Y Sente N Sims N Smiddy N Smith ...

Illinois Legislature Approves Benefit Cuts in Troubled Pension System –

Illinois General Assembly passes pension reform bill – Pensions & Investments

Meanwhile, judge rules pensions can be cut in Detroit bankruptcy – Detroit Free Press This ruling is not directly pertinent to us because Illinois and its large cities cannot file bankruptcy, but it sends a national message. "A new Detroit is born today," one commentator wrote. Will the fresh start of bankruptcy combined with extraordinarily low prices and a state budget in surplus lead to a boom?  We'll see.

Pension bill passes: now we’ll find out what’s in it. Here’s what we know so far – WP Original

  December 3, 2013 By: Mark Glennon   The pension bill has passed both houses and will be signed by Governor Quinn.   Savings from the bill will be material but hardly "comprehensive" or "sweeping" as many have claimed, eliminating at the most 20% of the official $100 billion unfunded pension liability, and that's undisputed. Expect that percentage to turn out much lower. Proponents focus on claims the bill will save $160 billion over thirty years, which the media are reporting as fact. It's...

Illinois Lawmakers Confront Historic Burden of Pension Futility – Bloomberg

“You don’t get an upgrade on the basis of this any time soon, even if it was to pass easily in a vote tomorrow or later this week.” A spokesman for Governor Quinn also said the state doesn’t expect an improved credit rating at once, but that lawmakers can stop the persistent cuts. via Illinois Lawmakers Confront Historic Burden of Pension Futility - Bloomberg.

Illinois’s Fake Pension Fix – Wall Street Journal

Eleven business groups urge General Assembly to pass pension reform – Illinois Review

Today’s Fat Cats Get Special Exemption Under Illinois Pension Deal – WP Original

  December 1, 2013 By: Mark Glennon   Under a particularly galling provision in the outline of the pension deal recently released, today's fat cats get special protection.   Means testing should be a key theme in any pension cuts. That is, small pensioners who really need their pension, who worked to a true retirement age and didn't spike or double dip, deserve more protection than fat cats with excessive pensions. Towards that end the pension deal appropriately includes a "pensionable salary cap" --...

Bruce Rauner, Candidate for Governor, Blasts Pension Deal

December 1, 2013   Republican candidate for Governor Bruce Rauner today sent the following mass email, in opposition to the pending pension deal:   This Tuesday a group of Springfield insiders, many of whom caused the pension crisis with decades of bad deals and giveaways, will try to rush through a pension deal without giving Illinoisans an opportunity to study the details. They want us to trust them. We don’t – and can’t. In the early 1990’s, Senate President John Cullerton was on a committee of...

$620 billion owed by state pensions, $62 billion on hand to pay it typepad/dlacomb/illinoisreview (illinoisreview)

Unions target Senate Dems in pension reform battle – News – The State Journal-Register – Springfield, IL

In the 2010 election cycle - when Illinois last had a governor’s race and several other statewide contests on the ballot - public sector unions donated nearly $12 million to various candidates, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. In 2012, they contributed $7.4 million to races for Illinois House and Senate and for judicial contests. Time to cash in on that. via Unions target Senate Dems in pension reform battle - News - The State Journal-Register -...

An independent, honest actuary’s response to the Illinois pension deal – UPDATED

  November 30, 2013 By: Mark Glennon John Bury is an actuary and a nationally recognized pension expert in New Jersey, who writes regularly about public pension plans around the country. I sent him the link to the outline of Illinois' pension deal that was released yesterday and asked him to take a look. He sent this response, which is also on his site: UPDATE (3:00 PM, 11/30/13): Mr. Bury wrote up his critique of the pension proposal point by point, which...

Pension Reform Proposal Outline Released  

Five reasons why Madigan’s pension fix is a step backward – IL Policy Institute

Let the unions kill the new Illinois pension deal

November 29, 2013  By: Mark Glennon   Today, key Illinois legislators released the list of "details" of their long awaited pension deal. The release is linked here. It's just one page. A draft of the actual bill is still kept secret. Most legislators haven't seen that yet, and may not until hours before the vote. Here are a few highlights and comments:   It won't save nearly enough to solve the problem, and it certainly isn't "comprehensive" -- as even some Republicans are...

Gurantyeeing Financial Ruin in Illinois – Ken Griffin,0,2676454.story Finally, the suicidal funding "guaranty" provisions in the pension reform deal are getting some attention. We've been screaming about them regularly here, starting with this piece last year. For a more dispassionate analysis, see this from the Illinois Policy Institute. Author Ken Griffin is a financial prodigy -- CEO and Founder of Citadel. His wife, also a hedge fund manager, funded Reboot Illinois. Let's hope Reboot understands this piece because they've been oblivious to the guaranty issue and far...

Governor Quinn’s Whopping Lie About the Pension Deal – WP Original

  November 28, 2013, By: Mark Glennon   Yesterday, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn issued a statement about the recent pension agreement among legislative leaders in which he said: When I proposed the creation of a conference committee in June, I asked members to draft a plan that eliminated the unfunded pension debt and fully stabilized the systems, and this plan meets that standard. (Emphasis added.) In fact, no more than about 20% of the unfunded pension debt would be eliminated under the agreement, which...

Actuary/Pension Expert Ridicules IL Pension Deal Propaganda "Of interest is not the plan itself...but aspects of the propaganda campaigns being rolled out, some of which are funny without comment, e.g., $100 billion in official underfunding and this ‘reform’ will save $160 billion over 30 years." John Bury is a nationally recognized voice on pension problems.

Reeder: Time has come for public pensions to give way to 401(k)s – Northwest Herald Like the failed "Edgar Ramp" for pensions implemented in the 1990s by Governor Edgar, the new pension deal would just put off cuts to the distant future.

60% of state pensioners retired before age 60 – Illinois Policy Institute The average pension for workers who retired before the age of 60 with at least 30 years of service credit is $63,424. - See more at: The average pension for workers who retired before the age of 60 with at least 30 years of service credit is $63,424. - See more at:   There are more than 200,000 current retirees across Illinois’ five state retirement systems. More than 60 percent of Illinois government pensioners retired before the age of 60....

Illinois colleges and universities ‘slamming taxpayers’ with pension abuse – Breitbart

"With no skin-in-the-game, colleges are conferring excessive salaries and slamming taxpayers for the pension costs." "Vernon O. Crawley of Moraine Valley Community College had a salary of $673,000 during his final year vs. a $260,000 inflation adjusted final salary. But upon retirement his pension is a whopping $330,000 per year which figures to $27,000 a month." "Illinois colleges and universities employed 52,000 in 2002. By 2012, total employment has risen to 90,000." via Illinois' University Pension Fund Is Underfunded by $20 Billion.  

Cost-of-living adjustments are supersizing state pensions – Illinois Policy Institute

What we know about the new pension deal so far – Reboot Illinois

Air the pension reform bill – Chicago Tribune editorial,0,5370080.story "Let's see the bill before there is a vote." Amen. We especially want to see the language on the "guaranty" provision, which threatens to make further reforms much more difficult -- and further reforms will clearly be needed since this bill will chop no more than 20% off the unfunded liability.

Bailouts for Cities? – PublicCEO "Detroit’s emergency fiscal manager said that the city has been going broke 'openly and notoriously' for over a decade, without confronting its problems." Ditto for Chicago and Illinois. The rest of the country will never stomach bailing them out.

Illinois’ unpaid bills higher than when lawmakers passed the tax hike – IL Policy Inst.

By the end of the current fiscal year, lawmakers will have collected a total of $25.7 billion in new revenue from the 2011 tax hike. Despite this massive inflow of new cash, Illinois’ unpaid bills are higher today than they were when lawmakers passed the 2011 tax hike. via Illinois’ unpaid bills higher than when lawmakers passed the tax hike.

Illinois House to take up pension reform on Dec. 3 – Reuters

Aging university folks ‘get rowdy’ at No. IL U. pension forum

Will pension reform save or destroy higher ed in Illinois? Two U of I business profs opine

Unions plan ’emergency days’ to lobby lawmakers on pensions – Associated Press

Top state lawmakers set pension talks – Associated Press Don't get excited, folks. They will still leave at least 80% of the unfunded pension liability in place.

Chicago’s true pension debt over twice as bad as reported – State Budget Solutions The officially reported unfunded liability of Chicago pensions is already insurmountable and would require half of city tax revenue to fix, but the true numbers are much worse. As we've been saying ad nauseam, officially reported pension numbers are politically manipulated bunk.

A tiny glimmer of light in Springfield’s pension work – WP Original

  November 20, 2013  By: Mark Glennon   A major figure in the Illinois legislature told me today to expect the "guaranty" provision in coming pension reform legislation to be much more limited than was earlier proposed, leaving it clear to all that further reforms still will be needed. That's important because, if true, it means the legislation that's probably coming in early December might not backfire against reformers by eliminating any incentive for reform opponents to agree to further changes later...

Illinois Beats Investment Return Goals Amid Pension Stalemate – Bloomberg Welcome news, but pensions have good years and bad years, too. More importantly, the pension deficit in Illinois still grows when good returns that beat assumptions, due to their inherent flaws and because they continue to be underfunded. This year, the Illinois teachers pension is the prime example.

Illinois pensions to get $100 million share of JPMorgan settlement – Associated Press That's much less than 1/1,000 of the unfunded liability, but every little bit helps.

Chicago’s mind-blowing $33 billion debt and pension obligations – Washington Post

Public pension and salary ‘double-dippers’ targeted in new bill – Chicago Sun-Times Called the "Retirement Means Retirement Act," it's intended to end pension payments the those not retired. Unions, of course, are opposed. State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, the bill's sponsor, "pointed to school superintendents and police chiefs who retire on a Friday only to return the following Monday with a new title, new salary — and drawing a pension— all while staying in the same office"    

Chicago agency’s pension reform could be legal test case – Associated Press

Public Union Pensions Not Sacrosanct, but Fairness Test Needed – Mish’s Global Economics MishsGlobalEconomicTrendAnalysis (Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis)

What Target Date Means for Pension “Reform”: Incumbent Protection – NBC Chicago

The Dec. 3 target date comes the day after nominating petitions are due for the 2014 primary ballot. That means incumbents may be spared from challengers upset with the pension reform compromise. via What Target Date for Pension Vote Means For Incumbents | NBC Chicago.

Illinois lawmakers could take up pension fix in December – Reuters House Speaker Michael Madigan told lawmakers to prepare for a December session, but don't expect any real reform -- the numbers under discussion remain inadequate to end the crisis. We reported a month ago that the pension committee was just $12 billion away from agreement -- but that's $12 billion over 30 years on a total liability over $600 billion, so this is much ado about little. Negotiations have shifted from the pension committee to the four legislative leaders, Madigan, John...

New song, old tune with pension “reform” at Chicago Park District pension – Eden Martin Eden Martin, author of this article and President of the Commercial Club of Chicago, has a remarkable ability to distill complex pension issues down to publishable size, yet do it accurately. He nails it again in this piece about the "template for reform" that many are calling the pending Chicago Park District pension legislation.

Morningstar Evaluates Fiscal Health of 25 City Pension Plans; Finds Chicago the Weakest – MarketWatch

Costly fix to Chicago Park District pension – News-Gazette Nice summary of issues surrounding the pending legislation to "fix" (or maybe not fix) the Chicago Park District Pension.

In face of Chicago downgrade, IL legislature looks to more pension borrowing – State Budget Solutions

Chicago Has Credit Rating Cut 3 Steps by Fitch on Pension – Bloomberg

Illinois House passes pension fix for Chicago park district – Chicago Sun-Times

"Chicago Park District’s $971 million pension shortfall that threatens 6,100 existing park employees or retirees.... Current employees would be asked to contribute up to 2 percent more out of their paychecks by 2019 while the park district would up its contributions to the system by $75 million during that period. Always remember: today's "unfunded pension liabilit" = tomorrow's tax, except insofar as employees are asked to contribute more. That $75 million will have to be raised from Chicago taxpayers. via House...

Illinois Evading Pension Fix Leads State Gaps Wider – Bloomberg

Naperville considers pension double-dipping transparency reform

Illinois Pension Said to Shop $500 Million in Fund Stakes – Bloomberg Illinois teachers' pension selling a large chunk of illiquid private equity holdings. The fund is essentially bleeding out: Neither contributions coming in nor earnings on its assets are enough to meet promises made to pensioners.

Illinois Evading Pension Fix Leads State Gaps Wider – Bloomberg

Illinois was the most-populous of five states, including Kentucky, North Dakota, Oregon and Vermont, where pension-funding ratios fell at least 21 percentage points from 2007 to 2012, data compiled by Bloomberg show. via Illinois Evading Pension Fix Leads State Gaps Wider: Muni Credit - Bloomberg.

Illinois pensions need to become more transparent – IL Policy Institute

Pensions for police dogs in the UK – Telegraph Surprising that Illinois isn't leading on this.

Pension reform seen unlikely for current Illinois legislative veto session – Reuters Probably a good thing, because the "reform" proposal will likely do more harm than good.

2 Blue Island brothers in line for 6 government pensions – Chicago Sun-Times

Pension progress reported, but vote unlikely this week – State Journal-Register

Illinois, don’t throw the game to reform opponents: Reject what’s coming from the pension committee

November 3, 2013, By: Mark Glennon "We're at the one yard line." That's how State Rep. Elaine Nekritz recently described progress by the special Illinois legislative conference committee towards presenting a proposal to fix state pensions. Wrong football metaphor.   No, it's not that the committee will "punt" on pension reform. It's worse than that.   The right metaphor is from Green Bay Packers defensive back Charles Woodson last year about Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler. Woodson said the Packers will win because "Jay will...

Q&A: No easy fix for Illinois’ financial woes – Associated Press

via Q&A: No easy fix for Illinois' financial woes.

Teacher Pensions Threaten To Bankrupt Illinois – Sound Money Institute

Illinois Pensions Ratchet Up to Crazy-town Level – Ted Dabrowski, IPI

Cook County Pension Fund Levels Continue to Decline – Civic Federation

The market value funded ratio for the County pension fund fell to 55.1% in FY2012 via Cook County Pension Fund Levels Continue to Decline | The Civic Federation.

Why Illinois’ pension crisis keeps getting worse – IL Policy Inst.

Moody’s downgrades CTA’s bonds, outlook revised to negative

CHALLENGES --Credit deterioration among key municipalities served --Growing unfunded pension liabilities combined with large capital needs that are likely to require sizeable additional leverage resulting in reduced coverage, and the low likelihood that pledged revenues will be expanded --State payment backlog that, despite recent improvement, will likely persist via Moody's downgrades Chicago Transit Authority (IL) sales tax revenue bonds to A1; outlook revised to negative.

Illinois Quad Cities police, fire pensions face underfunding – Quad Cities Online Just the police and fire pensions in the Quad Cities are short $163 million -- a sad reminder that Illinois has over 650 municipal pensions other than the five state-guarantied funds the "reform" committee is talking about.  Almost all 650 are underfunded.

Earth to Cullerton, Quinn – State Senator Darin LaHood "From where I sit here at my desk in Peoria, Illinois on planet Earth, it is obvious we are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.... "Moody's Investment Service rates Botswana with an 'A2' rating, compared to Illinois' 'A3 negative outlook' rating." "Illinoisans are tired of absurd statements...."

Unfunded liability grows for Illinois teacher pension, likely to worsen – Reuters

  via Unfunded liability grows for Illinois teacher pensions. TRS gave preliminary approval to a $3.412 billion contribution for fiscal 2015 using a state statutory formula. The pension system said that a $5.3 billion contribution would be needed to keep the unfunded liability from rising further. The pension earned 12% on its money but the unfunded liability jumped 7%. For reasons reported here repeatedly, the official state total unfunded liability of $100 billion is bunk, and this is just more evidence.

Video – WSJ reporter and FoxNews’ Stuart Varney discuss IL pensions Their depressing conclusion: We will raise taxes which will further retard the economy, and punt on pensions leaving a still bigger disaster for a few years from now. Unless a hell-raiser becomes governor.

Illinois Hits a New Low as Springfield Prepares for Pension Debate – The American Interest

Senate minority leader Durkin: Pension reform plan must include GOP ideas to get GOP votes

The Illinois Pension Mess – Wall Street Journal

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton's remarks over the weekend trivializing the state's pension problem go a long way to explain why he's in no rush to fix the broken system. via Political Diary: The Illinois Pension Mess -

Reuters’ Analysis: No answers for Chicago’s pension ills as mayor prepares budget

Illinois Incompetence Gives Bondholders More Yield – Bloomberg   Crisis? What crisis?

Senate President John Cullerton: Pension debt not a ‘crisis’ – business groups just seeking lower taxes – Tribune,0,3487357.story Cullerton's going all-in with public sector unions on this claim. For a little historical perspective, Cullerton's family has been a blight on our government almost continuously since the Chicago fire.

With tax cut pending, Wisconsin’s surplus reaches $759 million – Milwaukee JounrnalSentinal A reminder that neighbors competing for our employers aren't standing still. Wisconsin likely will cut its property taxes by $100 million.

Springfiled must create meaningful pension reform, and the proposal is not – Morris Daily Herald

Any pension reform must be sustainable over the long term, and this proposal would not be. via | Springfiled must create meaningful pension reform in Morris, Illinois.

Presented without comment: Progressive Caucus says new revenue other than property tax needed to solve Chicago’s pension crisisVoices

More than 50% of Illinois’ nearly 200K government pensioners retired at age 59 or younger – Il Policy Inst.

Hopeless State Pension Plan Coming Down the Pike – Eden Martin

How to Stop Courts’ Blockades of Pension Reform – Bloomberg

Promotion cost Cicero commander 2nd pension, but he’s happy at $200,000 per year – Chicago Sun-Times

Gov. Quinn “AWOL” From Pension Committee’s Talks – WUIS

-Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook: "It has been so long since I have spoken with the governor, I can't remember when it was, I think it was probably back in June, was the last time I spoke with the governor about this." via Gov. Quinn "AWOL" From Pension Committee's Talks | WUIS 91.9.

Cullerton: Pension issue could bypass committee

Pension reform: Time to means test COLAs – IL Policy Inst.

Here’s the very latest from Illinois’ pension reform committee – WP Original

  October 11, 2013   Pension reform in Illinois, as those who follow it know, is in the hands of a special committee of ten Illinois lawmakers. Direct from a committee member yesterday, here is the latest on the proposal they will likely end making to the Legislature:   - $138 billion reduction on pension outlays over thirty years (presumably, mostly through COLA changes), though members are still $12 billion away from full agreement on that number. -Those reductions are heavily back loaded. -Senate President John...

The rich get richer — payouts to Illinois’ top pensioners listed here

Illinois was closing one day at a time even before Fed shutdown – Greg Baise, IL Manufacturing Ass.

Shutdown of essential services from Illinois government has long been been underway

Reeder: Feds not alone with a government shutdown - Southtown Star.

Pension woes not isolated by size: many other Illinois public pensions are in trouble – Jacksonville Journal-Courier

The American Thinker’s case for abolishing public sector unions — based mostly on Illinois facts

Pension deal uncertain as Ill. veto session nears – Ass. Press

Private Equity Leads the Way in Pension Plan Returns – Private Equity Professional Digest Coffee from Private Equity Professional Digest&utm_content=Morning Coffee 10-3-13

Cullerton backs pension “reform plan to save $138 billion” – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register

Teachers’ Union Pres. Karen Lewis is One of the Five Percent – Dropout Nation

The “average” public sector pensions numbers every Illinoisan should read

September 27, 2013 You've been lied to. Pension supporters and public employee unions have long gotten away with claiming average pension payments are in the thirty to forty thousand dollar range. That was dishonest.  Those averages include pensioners who worked part of their careers in jobs not covered by the pension, part time workers and early retirees.  Those retirees have additional retirement income from other sources. The relevant averages are for people who work a full thirty years in a...

Watchdog: Putting off pension deadline ‘not an option’ – Chicago Tribune

"The city's pension funds are already dangerously close to where they cannot be saved." via Watchdog: Putting off pension deadline 'not an option' - Chicago Tribune.

And for another perspective: Rolling Stone weights in on the pension non-crisis

Are Illinois Pensions Fair To the Rest of Us? ChicagoNow

Where it really matters, Chicago’s unfunded pension liability per household is a whopping $900,000 – WP Original

  September 27, 2013 If you follow the pension crisis you're probably especially alarmed by the per-person estimates of unfunded pension liabilities.  What's overlooked, however, is that most Chicagoans can't contribute meaningfully to paying down that debt, so the true numbers for those who would have to pay are far, far higher. Per capita income in Chicago is only $28,000, or about $48,000 per household. Almost half of Chicagoans are in or near official poverty. Will they be asked to pay...

SEC official says public pension disclosures remain under scrutiny – Reuters

Moody’s Proposes Making Pension Liabilities a Bigger Factor in Bond Ratings

Chicago has the Biggest Pension Load of Debt-Laden Locales – Bloomberg

Whopping increases in pension benefits since the 1970s for IL teachers – Champion News

House Speaker Madigan waiting on pension vote to be scheduled, but won’t commit to calling it – Associated Press

Obamacare Is A Stealth Bailout Of State And Local Governments – Business Insider

The hidden bill: Chicago taxpayers and the looming crisis – Illinois Policy Inst.

Rich Miller: Special committee’s pension reform plan about ready

Illinois Needs to Come Up With Another $20 Billion Per Year — on a $35 Billion Budget – Business Insider

Back to basics on fixing Illinois state pensions – Eden Martin

Some ugly factoids on Illinois state pensions – Champion News

Springfield police pension board violating order, state agency says – State Journal-Register

Pensions Are Still Making Ludicrous Assumptions About Future Returns – Business Insider

IL Treasurer Topinka says Illinois’ financial situation driving business to surrounding states

Superb negotiation strategy of pension reform opponents has them ahead — for now – WP Original

  September 8, 2013   We pension critics have to admit it. Though public opinion is now shifting a bit towards pension reform, it's a different story in Springfield where reform opponents are far ahead. That's thanks to superior negotiation strategy by  unions and the politicians they influence. Here's what savvy negotiators do and why reform opponents excel:   14.00 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} •Smart negotiators cry a river over things that mean little to them, tricking opponents into thinking...

McCaleb: Will pension reform turn into anti-reform? – Northwest Harold

U.S. Labor Secretary’s Pension Extortion Will Make Reform Harder in Illinois –

Paying Mr. Perez's blackmail will embolden unions and make it harder for states like Illinois to reform their pensions. via Review & Outlook: Perez's Pension Extortion -

Pensions Drive Moody s Downgrade of Cook County Forest District

Teacher pensions are a bad deal for teachers – Public Sector Inc.

$620 Billion Promised, Only $62 Billion Set Aside in Illinois – Heartlander Magazine

New estimate of IL unfunded pension liability shatters old ones: $287 billion! – State Budget Solutions

Would Obama, Feds try to derail IL pension reform? They tried in CA – Pensions & Investments

Pension Perks: Retired, but back in old job in Dixon IL, Sterling, IL and Rock Falls IL –

Pension Spikers Gone Wild (on Suburban Fire Board)- Sun-Times

“I cannot burden this district . . . with your questions.” via West suburban fire board pumped up chiefs’ pensions, promoted trustee’s partner - Chicago Sun-Times.

Less is more for unions and contributions

Everything you need to know about actuarial standards in public pensions — in five short points

  August 30, 2013   Just about all numbers you see reported on public pensions come from actuarial consultants hired by the government, whose work accords with "industry convention."  That's very comforting to most taxpayers and reporters, lawmakers learned long ago. John Bury, an actuary and critic of his industry, says "industry convention" for public plan actuaries consists of five rules:   1. Keep contributions low.   2. Make valuation reports difficult to understand.   3. Keep contributions low.   4. Get paid as much as possible.   5. Keep contributions low.   Elegantly...

The world of state pension obligations: Illinois worse than Greece – CBS News

The world of state pension obligations - CBS News.

Video Summary of the Leaked Outline of Pension Committee Proposals –

More on that pension reform savings error: TRS blames its consultant

OOPS! Estimated Savings from Madigan’s Earlier Pension Proposal Were Too High – Associated Press

Even the first step towards fairness in pension reform is ignored in Illinois – WirePoints Original

  Pigs and Paupers, Pensions and Parity   August 25, 2013   If, in blinding contrast to reality, Illinois wanted to reform pensions fairly it would first have to define and tally up what might be called "the really-must-pay" priority pension claims.  That means pensions truly needed by certain retirees -- pensions in reasonable amounts that start at a true retirement age -- not the scandalous ones we read about so often for people still working, spikers and double dippers, or pensions that are...

Red flags in Illinois pension draft – Tribune,0,6061360.story

“Reform” Committee Teeing Up Pension Liability for Huge Kick Down the Road – WirePoints Original

  August 23, 2013   An outline of ideas being considered by the 10-person Illinois pension committee circulated today. Links are here for Reuters and AP articles. The outlined ideas are not finalized but this does give us the best indication yet of what the committee is considering.   Kick the can.  Kick it hard.  Kick it out of the end zone. That's the summary. Here are the specifics in the outline:   - Set COLAs at half the inflation rate instead of the current flat...

Are Chicago schools learning the right lesson from pension crisis? –

Teacher pensions have to take a hit – Sun-Times

Scrap Public Pensions – Chicago Now

How pension mess could get worse – Eden Martin

States and localities owe far, far more on pensions than their citizens know – Real Clear Markets

States and localities owe far, far more than their citizens know. via The Indebted States of America by Steven Malanga, City Journal Summer 2013.

Pension debt is killing Illinois and Chicago: It’s time to panic – Joe Cahill Business Blog – Crain’s

Does the Whole World Think Illinois Is Crazy? – Huffington Post

The Blue State Reckoning (Illinois, that is) – Wall Street Journal

The partnership of public unions and liberal politicians is hitting the wall. via Review & Outlook: The Blue State Reckoning -

Dysfunctional Illinois: No play, no pay – The Economist

Five ways unions will fight Illinois pension reform

The Real Reason Pension Funds Can’t Earn 8% – DailyFinance

Pandemic of pension woes is plaguing the nation – CNBC

Detroit, Chicago, and Public Debt – Commentary Magazine

Madigan, Cullerton Sue Quinn Over Lawmakers’ Suspended Pay – NBC Chicago

Illinois taxpayer contributions to state pensions skyrocket – Il Policy Inst.

Daley Money Hits Quinn in Fight to Fix Illinois Pensions – Bloomberg

Bankruptcy is not an option for Illinois cities or other units under current law

  July 29, 2013   Perhaps you've started wondering whether the Bankruptcy Code could offer a fresh start to Illinois, Cook County, Chicago, or other units of the state. Through bankruptcy, maybe they could cut some debt, renegotiate labor contracts, reduce pension liabilities, reschedule obligations, cancel bad contracts -- all things that happen in the private sector?  Bankruptcy occasionally works for people and companies so why not for government?   Don't count on it.   Most bankruptcies you know about are under Chapters 7, 11, and...

Retired doctor earns $500,000 Illinois pension –

Retirement benefits: Who pays the bill? – The Economist

  via Retirement benefits: Who pays the bill? | The Economist.

Chicago school pensions driving the Chicago the way of Detroit – Taxpayers United

Report: Chicago school pensions driving the Windy City the way of the Motor City - Illinois Review.

Public unions decide who to blame for state bond downgrades — the Civic Committee

To Save Pensions, Get Government Out – Bloomberg

Public Sector Pensions Are a National Issue – Prof. Joshua Rauh

Amid Detroit bankruptcy, ‘Chicago has too many similarities to ignore’ – The Globe and Mail

Detroit Exposes Pension Math Games

25 Facts About The Fall Of Detroit That Will Leave You Shaking Your Head

‘How Money Walks’ — Especially from Illinois

  If you wonder what out-migration does to Illinois' tax base, take a look at numbers compiled by Travis Brown, author of How Money Walks. They are devastating.   Between 1995 and 2010, based on data from the Census Bureau and and the IRS, 42 million Americans moved between states -- about one-seventh of the population -- taking with them $2 trillion of annual net adjusted gross income ("AGI", as defined by the IRS). Florida, Texas, and other low tax states hit...

A wonderful summary of sordid facts about Illinois public pensions – Capital Research Center

Bankruptcy in Detroit, and new precedents may be set – MuniLand

Detroit Files for Bankruptcy – WSJ

Public sector unions abuse power — a Democrat talks to Democrats

A quick trip into Springfield’s hell –'s-hell/

Businesses Should Fear States’ Big Pension Debts – Real Clear Markets

"Companies don't want to buy shares in a phenomenal tax burden that will unfold over the decades." via RealClearMarkets - Businesses Should Fear States' Big Pension Debts.

Food stamps far outpace new jobs in Illinois- IL Policy Inst.

Choice words from a candid actuary about how pension calculations are made

The longer we wait for pension reform, the higher the price we will pay – Rahm Emanuel,0,5899377.story

“No pension reform, no paychecks”? Why not “no pension reform, no pension contributions”? – WirePoints Original

June 11, 2013 Governor Quinn now says he will withhold pay for state legislators until they pass a pension reform bill. Reaction is generally positive, most commentators saying this is smart politics and a good way to pressure lawmakers, though probably unconstitutional -- but never mind that technicality.   Shame on Illinois.  This is a dangerous gimmick. There's a profoundly important principle behind the Illinois' constitutional provision that says "changes in the salary of a member shall not take effect during the...

Quinn Suspends Illinois Lawmaker Pay Until Pensions Fixed – Bloomberg

Quinn blasted for missing pension hearing – State Journal-Register

In IL, ‘pension reform’ may mean ‘tax increase’ –

Growing pension costs for Illinois judges are burdening state taxpayers – IL Policy Institute

Judges’ contributions to the Judges’ Retirement System, or JRS, have gone up by 52 percent since 1998. During the same time period, taxpayer contributions to judges’ retirements increased by 306 percent. via Illinois Policy Institute - Blog - Growing pension costs for Illinois judges are burdening state taxpayers.

The ‘progressive’ tax ploy in Illinois – Tribune,0,7665487.story

Deadbeat Illinois: Late state payments force local governments to shuffle

Three issues not included in Illinois pension reform discussion – Illinois

Illinois pension panel won’t meet Quinn’s July 9 deadline – State Journal-Register

Illinois ends fiscal year $6.1 billion in red – The State Journal-Register

Illinois – Deficit Is Growing Despite Tax Windfall – NYTimes

Ratings Service Moody’s Finds Pension Shortfall – NYT

Slow-walking pension reform in Illinois costs $17 million per day –,0,6350261.story

Pension time bomb ready to explode – The Telegraph

Someone needs to step forward, though, and be willing not just to say the system is broken — because it is — but to explain how it needs to change. It will alienate a lot of people to shatter the illusion that the existing system could ever be fixed, but it is a necessary first step. via Pension time bomb ready to explode - The Telegraph: Editorials.

AFSCME: It’s “Offensive” to Publish Illinois Pension Numbers; Lobbies to Kill Transparency

Failure to fix nation’s worst pension crisis hurts Illinois’ credit rating, costs taxpayers millions – Associated Press

19% of IL revenue goes to pensions while national average is 4.1% – Moody’s

Illinois pension fix headed to legislative conference committee – Reuters

In Illinois Pension Saga, Longtime Speaker Holds the Cards – WSJ

The money is gone — a timeless movie clip for IL legislators and public union bosses

    A financial advisor tries to explain what it means to "have no money" to Walter Matthau's character in A New Leaf linked here. Should be required viewing in Illinois.  

State pensions in America: Ruinous promises – The Economist

Another vote set on pensions; Cullerton ‘not very optimistic’ – Chicago Sun-Times

Tapped out taxpayers shoulder more and more of the costs of teacher pensions – IL Policy Institute

California, Illinois on Brink of Pension Crisis; New Actuarial Rules Will Force States to Admit Problems

Madigan Moves To Gut Cullerton’s Pension Reform Plan – CBS Chicago

Illinois leaders in conflict over pension bill after meeting – Reuters

GASB’s ineffective public pension reporting standards set to take effect – State Budget Solutions

Quinn Calls Special Session on Pensions – NBC Chicago

Another one: Moody’s downgrades Illinois bonds, maintains negative outlook –

Illinois: Driving into a ditch – MuniLand

Madigan skips Quinn’s pension reform meeting – Sun-Times

Fitch cuts Illinois rating over failure to fix pensions – Reuters

Illinois Awaits Further Credit Cut After Latest Pension Flop – Businessweek

Take pension guarantee out of constitution – HeraldReview editorial

Another year with no pension reform — what happens now? -The State Journal-Register

Lois Lerner to 1996 U.S. Senate Candidate Al Salvi: “We’ll get you!” – Illinois Review

Teachers Union Reportedly Clouts States to Fire Fund Managers for Advocating Pension Reform

  According to articles in Pensions & Investments and Barrons, the American Federation of Teachers has a solution for investment firms run by people who, in their personal lives, don't toe the union's political line on public employee pensions:  We may try to get your firm fired or never hired by pensions. Though a few financial journals covered this story as it came out in April, its real implications were overlooked.   Public pensions are typically defined benefit funds, controversial because they...

Path to Illinois Pension Reform Now Even Trickier – ABC News

Illinois legislature adjourns without averting pension crisis – Reuters

Moody’s warns Illinois about its credit rating – Tribune,0,2992838.story

Illinois Senate defeats sweeping pension reform bill – Reuters

How a retired teacher’s pension adds up to $400,000 per year – DailyHerald

Deadline near, Illinois pension reform snarled in state politics – Reuters

Unions supported the skipped pension contributions they now revile – Reboot

9,900 Illinois Government Pensioners With Annual Pension Over $100k – Taxpayers United of America

Cullerton’s claimed savings from union backed reform proposal challenged -Tribune,0,6325910.story

Clock Is Ticking on Illinois Pension Reform – The New American

Illinois pension reform: Civic Federation sides with Madigan over Cullerton – Crain’s

The Empire Strikes Back: Union-Supported Bill to Lien State Cash for Pensions Passes State Senate

  "Pension reform"? Or is it fairer to think of it as a lien on all state cash to ensure it will be spent on pensions ahead of other things. The Illinois Senate today approved  SB 2404 sponsored by Senate President Cullerton and municipal unions.  The proposal would cut pension obligations only a bit.  Greg Hinz of Crain's, who is hardly a pension hawk, says of the bill: "over the next 32 years, taxpayers still would have to put in...

Madigan’s pension plan would perpetuate Illinois’ crisis – IL Policy Institute

Editorial: What’s ‘morally’ wrong? Fake pension fix – Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois Senate committee approves Cullerton’s union-backed pension plan

Illinois Unions So Drunk On Power They’re Crushing Even Democrats Now – Policymic

Illinois Senate to vote on union-endorsed pension reform bill – Reuters

Illinois’ tax revenue up but probably not for long

Illinois' Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has an interesting recent report.  Tax revenues surged in April maintaining their historically high rate.  But the good news won't likely hold up.  Taxpayers, it says, crammed as much income as they could into 2012 tax returns to avoid higher pending Federal rates for 2013, and 2012 taxes account for the surge. The effect will reverse as 2013 returns are filed.   Employment weakness will probably further depress tax revenue. Both the number of...

Madigan offers his pension reform proposal – WirePoints Original

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan finally weighed in yesterday on pension reform, offering a proposal that will surely become the front runner. It already won approval today from the House Personnel and Pensions Committee. Cuts to pensioners -- and there are some -- largely mirror those in the earlier Nekritz-Biss proposal. Details are in the Reuters article here.   Overall, it's as bad as we should have expected.  First, like Nekritz-Biss, it does not reduce pension liabilities enough.  While a full...

Deval Patrick’s and Pat Quinn’s Multi-Billion Dollar Teachers’ Pension Woes – Dropout Nation

State Police Retirees Draw Six-Figure Pensions at Age 50 – CBS Chicago Investigation

via 2 Investigators: State Police Retirees Draw Six-Figure Pensions « CBS Chicago.

The pension funding guarantee: an irresponsible plan

Lessons from the Edgar plan: why defined benefits can’t work – Illinois Policy Institute

Even after proposed pension fix, Illinois still would be broke

Schools still spiking salaries to spike pensions – DailyHerald

Honor roll of legislators who have opted out of taxpayer-paid pension – Illinois Review

New accounting rules will TRIPLE reported pension liabilities – Pensions & Investments

State Government Tax Revenue Hits All-Time High – WSJ

Illinois lawmakers eye $2.5 bln bond deal to pay bills – Reuters

The Pension Rate-of-Return Fantasy –

One way for our insolvent state to save money: Wake up to the new mainstream on climate science — WirePoints Original

In case you haven't noticed, the wheels are close to coming off much of the case for global warming. Deep skepticism is now mainstream. Reason: The data have not fit the predictions. Surface temperatures have not risen, contrary to models and assurances of many leading climate scientists who are now rushing to try to understand that which they said earlier was beyond debate. The Economist magazine rang the bell. Formerly a climate doomsayer, it said before the 2009 Copenhagen climate...

How long should it take to review state budget?

Blue Civil War: Rahm Takes on Pension Lie – The American Interest

No Cure for Cancer in Actuarial Profession – Burypensions Blog

What a pension guarantee will do to Illinois – Opinion

Illinois Losing to California Shows Pension Penalty – Bloomberg

The Debt Bomb That Taxpayers Won’t See Coming – WSJ

via The Debt Bomb That Taxpayers Won’t See Coming - Wall Street Journal -

While Systems Go Bust, Public Pension Elites Profit – Better Gov. Ass.

BGA: “Double Dipping Docs” Getting Rehired While Collecting State Pensions

Rauner Blasts Quinn as a Union “Lackey” on Guaranties to Pensions

Quinn wants funding guarantee in pension bill – State Journal-Register

States Build Cash Reserves (Not Illinois) –

It’s Cullerton vs. crowd on pensions – status check from a Springfield insider

Laying blame: Union bosses also culpable for pension crisis – IL Policy Inst.

Illinois House passes stripped down pension plan – Ass. Press

SEC’s focus on Illinois pension shenanigans is welcome, but not enough – Daily Caller

Senate votes down larger pension reform — Tribune,0,2650378.story

Senate approves pension changes for teachers

Is the SEC Letting Illinois and Other States Get Away With Fraud? – RealClearMarkets –

Court says healthcare for retired state workers does not have a constitutional guarantee – A.P.

Illinois House takes baby steps to rein in pension costs – Reuters

Business leaders sign letter opposing Cullerton’s “pension reform” bill

Unbelievable: Speaker Madigan says “there are no victims here” regarding SEC finding that the state committed fraud — WirePoints Original

Regarding the SEC finding that the state committed fraud in its statements and omissions about pensions, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said yesterday that "here are no victims here. Nobody’s lost any money.” Hiding the reality that Illinois pensions likely would NEVER be able to reach acceptable funding levels (which the state's own consultant said, but the state hid) didn't harm anybody? The state's credit isn't further damaged? Bond purchasers who bought through fraudulent offering documents didn't pay more than they they...

Illinois to return to bond market with $800 mln bonds sale – Reuters

What Illinois state-sponsored fraud should be telling us – WirePoints Original

Yesterday the Securities Exchange Commission issued an order that included findings that the State of Illinois committed fraud in  statements and omissions it made about its pensions in bond offerings during the Blagojevich years.   Governments have powerful incentives to understate their pension problems, and this chapter shows just one reason why.  The SEC focused on bond sales, and bond prices are based on overall financial health of the state.  Hiding pension problems lowers borrowing costs, but politicians have even bigger...

What Governor Quinn “meant to say” in his budget address: WirePoints Original

Governor Pat Quinn delivered his annual budget address today to a joint session of the General Assembly.  It was mostly finger pointing at legislators for lack of action on pension reform, but he covered other topics.  Below in regular print are real lines from the speech.  Beneath each line we've added, in italics, what he meant to say.   This is  an honest budget. There are no gimmicks or fake numbers in this budget. Glad I'm not CEO of a public company. ...

Quinn delivers his budget address – Reuters

Pensions top $100,000 for 42% of District 211 retired educators –

Palatine-Schaumburg via Pensions top $100,000 for 42% of District 211 retired educators -

5 reasons the Illinois budget is in trouble – DailyHerald

Reuters’ on new Illinois budget

Four numbers sum-up IL’s next budget –

A teacher: “Cut my pension, please”

Udate on pension reform and baffling gamesmanship from Madigan – WirePoints Original

What's going on?  Take your guess. Earlier this week several leading legislators from both parties jointly sponsored a new, broad pension reform proposal described here.  That proposal is a serious one. Sponsors include Democratic Senator Elaine Nekritz and at least one bona fide fiscal conservative who understands numbers, Republican Representative David Harris. But afterwards House Speaker Michael Madigan, de facto ringmaster of Illinois government, proposed to the House for immediate vote a list of very specific and tough pension cuts, such...

How Lower Earnings Will Impact California’s Total Unfunded Pension Liability – California Public Policy Center

Illinois’ backlog of bills to nearly triple in five years: Civic Federation

Chicago Teachers’ Pension Sinks Further Into the Abyss

  As reported by Crain's this week, problems for Chicago Public Schools worsened with the release of a report showing it will have to come up with an extra $400 million for its pension next year, $70 million more than had been expected.  Bad as that is for Chicago schools, the broader lesson is much more frightening.   The report by actuarial consultants for the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund says the fund returned negative 0.4% last year, not 8% as it assumes...

A Federal Bailout of Illinois Pensions Will Open the Floodgates – National Review

New pension plan would make “temporary” income tax hike permanent and have local taxpayers picking up the tab –

How Not to Run a Pension –

Defining Actuarial Soundness of Pensions is Actually “Making Shit Up” – Says an Actuary

Summit on Illinois pension woes ends with no new plan – Reuters

State of Illinois’ record of shorting pensions goes back decades – State Journal-Register

Video – 105-year-old retired teacher shares view on teacher pensions

Why Kekua — Manti Te’o’s girlfriend — has so much to do with our pension crisis – WirePoints Original

"Kekua" might be defined as "fiction copied from one story to another in the media echo chamber and assumed to be fact."  The infamous story of Lennay Kekua, Manti Te'o's girlfriend, was copied and repeated endlessly until somebody finally checked her out and learned she never existed. Virtually every news story one reads about Illinois pensions mentions our "$97 billion" unfunded pension liability.  That's the size of the problem, most everybody who follows the pension crisis will tell you.  Actually,...

Union claims poll supports their pension plan, but poll didn’t mention tax increase –

Senate boss Cullerton tells unions to forget tax hikes – State Journal-Register

Video: IL lawmakers breaking Constitutional oath by favoring pensions over schools? «

If those unfunded pensions shown on your property tax bill made you sick, get sicker – WirePoints Original

Property tax bills in Cook County arrived last week and they include what seems like a nice step towards transparency about the pension crisis.  Not really.  It's much worse than it appears. For the first time tax bills show unfunded pension liabilities for units of government towards which your property taxes are paid directly.  They show just the ones funded by your own property taxes, which means most taxpayers will see roughly eight to ten units and their pension deficits....

Haves and Have Nots in Illinois Pensions – WirePoints Original

Illinois public pensioners range from the deserving, borderline impoverished to the undeserving, shameless pigs, yet those disparities are all but ignored in pension reform discussions.  The premise here is that haircuts are unavoidable and the haircuts will be large -- many pensioners will not get benefits nearly as big as they are scheduled to get, and no tax increases or other reforms will solve the problem, however unfair or immoral that result may be.  That premise is unassailable, as...

Yet another expert says Illinois pension hole is 2X or 3X worse than the state says

Text of Speaker Madigan’s letter to labor telling them to get real

The first system to be insolvent? The legislators’ own

Illinois Credit Rating Lowered by S&P as Pension Costs Rise – Bloomberg

Pension reform shouldn’t include contract guarantee – Opinion

More Ill. lawmakers refuse legislative pension – FOX 32 News

Illinois pension math doesn’t add up, funds take in less than they pay out –

Financial Times’ story on Illinois pensions

One solution for Illinois’ pension problem – Opinion – Crain’s

US taps pension fund to avoid passing debt limit – Ass. Press

Springfield’s latest pension fumble was a win for taxpayers – Opinion – Crain’s

“Don’t frighten the children”- an actuary’s view of Illinois’ phony pension numbers

How could the state get away with lying about the size of the pension problem and why would the media be asleep at the switch?  Here's how it happens: The key number in the pension debate is the estimate of unfunded liability.  Illinois claims the total unfunded liability for the five state guarantied funds is $96 billion, a figure the media endlessly repeat without scrutiny. That figure changes dramatically if you change its underlying assumptions, particularly the annual rate of...

Illinois must step away from public pensions altogether-Northwest Herald

Illinois Legislature ends session without pension fix-Reuters

Excuses abound in pension reform – Capitolfax

Updated: Bombshell provision in Illinois pension “reform” efforts – WirePoints Original

UPDATE- John Bury, a widely read actuary focused on pensions and quoted in this post, emailed me with his comments on this post, which I have copied below and they should be read. The Nekritz-Biss pension reform proposal being debated now in Springfield includes the "ironclad guaranty" below sought by unions to assure the state makes pension contributions.  This provision would effectively outsource budgeting for pensions to state courts. Never mind for now the other problems with the proposal. Beginning July...

The pension spike survives – Tribune,0,7064187.story

Only a devastating shock will get real action on Illinois pensions, but what? – WirePoints Original

  "I think it's going to reach a point where there's either social disorder or bankruptcy before people will act." That’s what Richard Ravich said about Illinois. He led the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority during that city's financial crisis of the mid-1970s and co-authored a the recent bipartisan State Budget Crisis Task Force report along with former Fed chief Paul Volker. You already know if you’re a regular here that our financial plight is much more desperate than commonly understood and...

Lessons from “On the Waterfront” for Illinois progressives and unions – WirePoints Original

  “You’ve been off in Daisyland.” Terry Malloy   Let’s first be clear: Violent corruption of the kind depicted in Marlon Brando’s 1954 film On the Waterfront is mostly history. That’s not a problem today in Illinois. The problem instead is the broader issue underlying that movie, evident today in the Illinois pension crisis: how the pie in labor gets split up among the little guys and the big guys. Small, rank-and-file pensioners are competing with bigger pensioners for pieces of a pie that’s...

Wisconsin retirees could face 13 percent pension cut – Tribune,0,1456785.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed: chicagotribune/views ( - Most Viewed Stories)&utm_content=My Yahoo

How insolvency is supposed to be managed versus how Illinois is managing it – WirePoints Original

Let’s look at where the Illinois fiscal crisis now stands through the lens of how insolvencies are supposed to be handled. Some basic principles about how to give a broke operation a clean start are below – and giving the state a clean start is what we need. I put those principles in bold followed by how we are doing on them: • List your liabilities honestly and accurately. Illinois does the opposite, vastly understating the scope of its problems....

Five reasons why defined benefit pension plans are poison and must be replaced ASAP – WirePoints Original

The pensions at the center of the storm for Illinois and its localities are “defined benefit” plans -- pensioners receive fixed amounts each month for the rest of their lives. Those amounts are usually subject to automatic annual increases or cost of living adjustments. Here are five reasons why defined benefit plans are hopelessly flawed and should be scrapped and replaced as rapidly as fairness and the law allow: • They are irrational at their core. They promise to pay...

Unions propose raising taxes and paying more to fix pension crisis – State Journal-Register

Great summary of the Illinois pension crisis

You may or may not like libertarian politics, but if you want hard facts on the Illinois fiscal crisis you'd be wise to follow the research of the Illinois Policy Institute, a libertarian think tank. Yesterday they published this great snapshot summarizing how bad the real numbers are. WirePoints recently collected some of the research from outside the state saying essentially the same thing -- that the official numbers used by the state are off by at least 100% --...

New Proposal is a Quacker – Lame Pension Reform for Lame Ducks – Taxpayers United

New pension reform proposal good, but falls short – Watchdog News

Outside experts size up Illinois pension mess: twice as big as the state admits — WirePoints Original

  "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." Edward. R. Murrow December 9, 2012, Updated January 9, 2012 A primary reason for the fiscal calamity in Illinois is sheepish acceptance of the state's narrative about pensions. The official unfunded liability of the five state guarantied pension funds -- the key number in the narrative -- is $96 billion, a number repeated endlessly and mindlessly by most of the media and some "pension reform" groups. It's nonsense.  Here are some of...

Illinois’ body parts likely to be divided among pensions and bondholders — WirePoints Original

December 6, 2012 Legislators in Springfield and public worker unions have said regularly that any pension reform measure should include a guaranty mechanism assuring that the state's contributions to pensions actually get made.  The pension reform proposal put forth today by a group of legislators headed by Senator Nekritz includes such a provision to intercept state cash and divert it to pensions.  Details are sketchy, but the mechanism will probably be in the form of legislation that automatically appropriates the...

Frustrated Illinois lawmakers pitch pension fix – Associated Press

Mayors: Springfield doesn’t get how bad the pension mess is –

Mayors call for reform to police, fire pensions -

Illinois teachers’ pension responds: says their assumptions are fine

    In the attached letter to the Wall Street Journal, the head of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, the state's largest pension fund, responds an editorial in that paper.  The Wall Street Journal had criticized the pension's assumption that it can make 8% on its invested assets.  That assumption is key to determining the size of the pension's unfunded liability.   The Wall Street Journal is one of many voices to say that 8% is far too optimistic.  More importantly, new accounting...

WirePoints Original: Why Illinois lawmakers can’t possibly set taxes rationally

  Does the additional revenue that comes from a tax increase get cancelled out, in whole or in part, because taxpayers -- especially high earners -- leave or change their residence?   Astonishingly, nobody in Illinois government has attempted to answer these questions and the state has no data, no study, no clue.   I've asked several legislators from both parties and searched myself, but nothing is there.   The anecdotal evidence says the problem is severe.  Examples are reported publicly fairly often.  Tax planners...

Is the unfunded liability of Illinois’ teachers’ pension twice as bad as they say? – WirePoints Original

  The Illinois Teachers System (TRS), the state's largest pension fund, released the editorial linked here on November 16.  It says "TRS at the end of FY 2012 had only 40.6 percent of what will be needed to pay all anticipated benefits over the next 30 years."   But new rules already issued by the Government Accounting Standards Board will soon force them to make more realistic assumptions about how much money they make on their investments which will shatter even that...

Mayor: Suburban pension mess a looming ‘nuclear winter’

Just who is endangering Illinois’ municipal pensioners? WirePoints Original

  We pension pessimists are actually pension villains -- the hardball folks happy to cut pensions, starve retired teachers, steal from cops, and so on. We villains overstate pension shortfalls so government will cut them off.  Right?   Consider instead if it might be the deniers -- those who say the pension and fiscal crises are manageable, mostly through tax increases -- who are really endangering pensions of rank and file municipal workers.   Illinois was broke long before the "Illinois is Broke" campaign...

Illinois lawmakers’ own pension fund is hopelessly broke

Revenue from “temporary” 66% tax increase diverted entirely to pensions and Medicaid

Suburban pension relief may be delayed

Pension reforms risk liability for Social Security taxes for employees and governments

Illinois’ pension debt grew by nearly $12 billion last year

Python Presses Illinois for Worst-State Pension Fix: Muni Credit – Bloomberg-Businessweek

After comparing his struggle to Lincoln’s against slavery, Quinn hath loosed the fateful lightning — on Squeezy the Pension Python!     Squeezy is Quinn's villain in his grassroots pension reform campaign, and his new website is Among the reactions, courtesy of - Unions respond by "unleashing Flippy the Bird." - "Too much grass in the grassroots campaign." - "Quinn couldn't snake a drain much less reform pensions." - "The kids should know about this. They will be paying for it." - "Just think if we just wrote what actually happens, no one would believe us."

Illinois governor compares fixing union pensions to Lincoln abolishing slavery

Civic Committee: Illinois pension system ‘unfixable’; text of their memo here

$5 Trillion Price Tag for State and Local Pensions

If Illinois is such a financial wreck, why are its bonds selling so well?

The shortfall in public pensions for taxpayers to cover — per household

It’s here: Bipartisan report of national commission savages state finances

Report savages state finances, says more cuts, tax hikes inevitable - Blogs On Politics - Crain's Chicago Business.

City of Chicago Pensions See Continued Decline

The Police and Fire pension funds have the lowest actuarial funded ratios at 35.6% and 28.3% via City of Chicago Pensions See Continued Decline | The Civic Federation.

A 27% increase in state payments to Illinois teachers’ pension not nearly enough

Illinois' FY 2014 teacher pension payment up 27.2 pct | Reuters.

Study shows example of grossly unfair pension impact — on Quincy, Adams County

Quincy, IL News - - Study shows impact of Quincy, Adams County pension liability.

BGA’s Pension and Payroll Database Now Online

See Where Your Tax Dollars are Going.

A scary pension ‘reform’ proposal

Lawsuits led by Chicago Teachers Union seek to reverse pension reforms,0,857822.story

Obama’s Illinois state pension estimated lifetime payout: $383,535

Illinois Policy Institute - Blog - Obama’s Illinois state pension estimated lifetime payout: $383,535.

5 Things to Watch When Cutting Public Pensions

12 via 5 Things to Watch When Cutting Public Pensions.

Illinois Policy Institute – Can Illinois afford another income tax hike?

Illinois Policy Institute - Blog - Can Illinois afford another income tax hike?.

Research & Commentary: Illinois’ Pension Problem and How to Fix it — Heartland Institute

Research & Commentary: Illinois’ Pension Problem and How to Fix it | Heartland Institute.

Another lame editorial on pension reform

Illinois Chamber of Commerce: Reform must happen

Recent Wirepoints Originals

One Chart Shows Awful Fiscal Trajectory of Chicago Area and Illinois – WP Original

And here's a promise: The trend will continue.

Education Funding Bill is a Monstrosity of Unknown Proportions – Wirepoints Original

Shame on everybody who has let SB1 get as far along as it has with such little understanding, Republicans and Democrats alike.

Rauner’s New Staff, Extremism and the Stockholm Syndrome – Wirepoints Original

That which can't pass the establishment in the General Assembly and its enablers in the press is "too radical" for Illinois.

The Importance of Being Scared (in Illinois) – WP Original

"If you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.”

New Financial Statements: Cook County Bleeding Red Worse Than Ever – Wirepoints Original

And check out the ten-year record of huge losses.

Outrageous Giveaway to Muni Bond Buyers Hidden in Massive Budget Bill – Wirepoints Original

We are being looted. The muni bond industry is going all out to keep raising the credit card limit and sucking every ounce of blood out to ensure it gets repaid.

The Many Ways Illinoisans Won’t Pay Higher Taxes – Wirepoints Original

It's not just that people are moving out.

Progress for Illinois? Here’s a Small Hint. – Wirepoints Original

Read this and guess where it's from.

Most House Members Don’t Know What’s in the $36 Billion Spending Bill Passed – Wirepoints Original

"We have no idea what's in it." - House Minority Leader Jim Durkin