Heartland Institute Reacts to Illinois Pension Reform Failure

January 09, 2013

The Illinois General Assembly let the lame-duck session end Tuesday without voting on Gov. Pat Quinn’s so-called “Hail Mary” plan to reform the state’s public pension system, which has $96.8 billion in unfunded liabilities.

The following statements from budget experts at The Heartland Institute – a Chicago-based free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“Is anyone surprised the Illinois General Assembly failed utterly to do anything to fix the pension system they’ve destroyed? I’m not. This is Illinois, where citizens literally have had a 50-50 chance since the 1960s of electing as governor a person who later is proven in a court of law to have been a criminal."

“This is Illinois, where the new General Assembly that was sworn in today has three members who are facing criminal charges. The charges include bribery, bank fraud, and trying to bring a firearm onto a plane. That last charge is against Sen. Donne Trotter, who has cosponsored more than 30 bills to restrict gun owner rights in Illinois."

“This is Illinois, where legislators and governors routinely ignore the state constitutional requirement to submit balanced budgets. If they can ignore the state constitution, they can ignore anything, including the fiscal disaster they have caused.”

Steve Stanek
Research Fellow, Budget and Tax Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Budget & Tax News

“Gov. Quinn’s last-minute attempts to outsource legislative authority to a commission to fix the state’s pension problems is evidence that the Illinois legislature is too cowardly to make the tough decisions necessary to keep the state afloat. This is even more astonishing since the state is overwhelmingly controlled by one party."

“In order to fix the pension system Illinois must follow the private sector’s lead and switch workers from a defined-benefit pension system to some type of a defined-contribution system. The amount of money that government is on the hook for must be capped, immediately funded, and protected from borrowing. Only then can Illinois eliminate the burden of future pension liabilities, avert the pension crisis, and make budgeting more predictable.”

John Nothdurft
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute

“Nobody in the legislature wants to take the heat for cutting pensions and forcing retired cops to eat out of garbage cans, which is how any sensible resolution would be characterized. Illinois’ only hope now is to convince President Obama to have his Treasury Department mint that $1 trillion coin and hand it to Pat Quinn. Good luck with that.”

S.T. Karnick
Director of Research
The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 29-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.