Pension pain keeps going

April 8, 2014 

A lot of people breathed a sigh of relief when the Illinois legislature finally passed state employee pension reform, but now the other shoes are dropping.

The state's penchant for underfunding pensions has been copied by municipalities throughout Illinois. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel needs $600 million to keep the city's pension funds from going belly up this year. The next nine largest cities have about $1.5 billion in unfunded debt combined. Statewide, cities have just 55 percent of what's needed to cover police and fire pension obligations.

If a private business did such a poor job of managing its pension fund -- oh wait, the federal government won't let a private business operate this way. There are strict standards and reporting requirements to ensure that workers and retirees are protected.

By contrast, state and municipal governments have been extremely shortsighted, pushing the pensions off to another day so they had the money to cover raises, benefits and other spending.

Well, the day of reckoning has arrived. What exactly that means remains to be seen, but undoubtedly it will involve taking more money from the taxpayers.

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