A voice for Chicago’s corporations, Crain’s Chicago Business is taking the opportunity of a new Illinois governor and new Chicago mayor to weigh in on the state’s pressing issues.
They even take credit for Mayor Lightfoot’s speech last week at the luncheon of the Chicago Federation.
Without any details, Mayor Lightfoot said in her luncheon address that this was the time to deal with the pension issue.
Naturally, Crain’s thought that she got the idea for that from them.
I’ve been saying it was time to address the pension issue for years. Maybe I should take credit for Mayor Lightfoot saying it.
Crain’s pension special report – not the easiest thing to navigate online – was filled with misinformation.
I want to address just two things I found in it.
This is a lie.
In fact, they say just the opposite in their very next sentence.
“The cost of servicing Illinois’ pension debt continues to soar, devouring state government resources.”
Which is it?
Is it spending on pensions or servicing the debt?
Let me answer that.
Roughly 70% of the dollars the state needs for the pension budget line goes to paying interest on the debt for past pension holidays and underfunding.
It is not being spent on us or on the pensions we receive.
If the state were just paying for employee pensions, not only would the costs not be overtaking education spending, it would be a totally manageable expense.
Buried deep in the Crain’s report is this pension solution:
“To put it bluntly, the people who get the biggest Tier 1 checks eventually will die off, replaced by cheaper newbies.”
Tier I pensioners are people like me, hired before January 1, 2011.
Tier II employees, hired after that date, are being screwed. In fact, they are the main ones who are paying the debt, slowing the amount it increases.
When Tier I teachers, people like me, “die off,” part of the pension problem will be solved.
I hope as Mayor Lightfoot fleshes out her plans to address the pension issue, waiting for me or my Chicago colleagues to die isn’t part of it.