Is what is happening in Illinois in its government pension crisis a warning of problems of that type in other states in the future? Or is it that Illinois just has been reckless in awarding benefits and the day of reckoning has arrived?
Illinois faces a $100 billion shortfall in its pension program. The governor and members of the Legislature can’t agree on a plan to deal with the shortfall. Gov. Pat Quinn has blocked pay for legislators, stopped his own pay, in a move to try to get the members of the Legislature to act. This pension crisis reportedly is the worst in the country among states.
The Illinois Legislature has been debating an overhaul of the pension program for two years. Efforts to reach a compromise on cuts to employee and retiree benefits so far have failed. The state has other problems. Its credit rating ranks as the lowest in the country among states.
There doesn’t seem to be any other solution except to make pension cuts, which will be a blow to employees and retirees. All governments should heed what is going on in Illinois. What is given today in benefits may not be possible in another day. Fiscal responsibility with the taxpayers’ dollars is imperative. Prudence must be exercised.
Private enterprises also have had their share of problems in meeting pension commitments. People are living longer. There have been examples of troublesome investment of pension dollars. What is given now may not be possible in the future.