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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Illinois Failing - Pensions Have To Change

There are several clear examples of states that are/were failing financially due to many factors: the recession beginning several years ago, gold plated state governmental retirement benefits (think Greece like) and union control of many aspects of state governmental labor institutions. Also impacting, of course, is the regulatory nation that the Obama Administration has forced down the states' throats, with is killing small businesses. It is no accident that the states finding solutions to their big deficits and debt are lead by Republicans (Wisconsin and Ohio) and the states that are most at risk of bankruptcy are controlled by Democrats and their union puppet masters (California and Michigan). However, there is a glint of hope. Many State Democrat legislators and Governors are seeing the truth, that they cannot sustain big government programs and massive union over the top pensions and benefits. This is also happening in the Federal Government with a few Democrat Senators and Congressmen now saying Obamacare was a mistake. Hey, welcome to reality!

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is one of these Democrats who are seeing the light. Whether or not they are coming to terms because of their political viability being threatened or because they can actually see the bleak future of spending money they don't have is besides the point, at least the conversations are taking place and solutions being explored.

According to Reuters, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced a series of proposals to help save the state's floundering pension systems. For years Illinois' pension program has been in crisis and has continued to be short of billions of dollars worth of funds. The governor's proposals would slash costs associated with the programs while making several major changes in the requirements:

* The state pension systems is approximately $85 billion short of the money needed to fully fund it, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
* Roughly 90 percent of current state retirees receive some state assistance or subsidies for health care and Illinois is expecting to spend $950 million on retiree health care for the next fiscal year.
* Gov. Quinn said regarding his suggestion pension program changes, "I didn't create the problem. But I'm here to solve it. I know that I was put on earth to get this done," the Chicago Tribune reported.
* The governor is proposing the state raise the retirement age from 60 to 67 for full benefits, according to the University of Illinois at Springfield.
* If the suggested changes take place, employee contributions would increase 3 percent, but while participating in the plan is voluntary for state employees, those who do not participate will forfeit their retirement health care coverage.
* The governor is also proposing to reduce the cost-of-living increase in retirement pensions to the lesser of 3 percent or half of what the consumer price index is at. The Huffington Post reported that overall, the planned reforms, which would be slowly phased in over several years, would save the state $65 billion to $85 billion by 2045.
* Pensions are expected to cost the state about $5.2 billion, or 15 percent of general of general revenue spending, in the upcoming fiscal year.
* Even Cook County 's pension funds are struggling to stay afloat and they are expected to be fully tapped out in 26 years without changes.
* Pensions in the public sector would be limited to only state employees, a move that comes after a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed individuals employed by unions and groups, have been able to collect state retirement pensions. So there it is, controlled by self serving Dems for decades, Illinois is now at a Greece like point where major changes are necessary in order to have the system.

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