Illinois Pension Liability Now $111 Billion

Dec 11, 2015

Credit Simon Cunningham / Flickr

Cash-strapped Illinois has seen the unfunded liability of its pension systems rise yet again. Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky reports.



Politicians continually skipped putting the state's employers' share of workers' retirement benefits in the bank --- instead using the money to go on government spending sprees.

So last year, Illinois' long-term pension debt came in at more than $104 billion. This fiscal year, that's ticked up to $111 billion. Dan Long is director of the state's forecasting agency, which just issued these updated figures.

"We're significantly underfunded. We have the largest underfunded pension systems in the country and of course the dollar amount is quite significant at $111 billion." Long says that means next year, Illinois will have to put about $7 billion dollars into pensions.

He says were Illinois to have paid its part in the past, and was left only paying the regular, annual tab -- known as "normal cost" -- that figure would fall to a couple billion. Court decisions have hindered Illinois' ability to minimize costs by cutting retirees' benefits.