A state's unfunded pension liability ― the difference between what a state owes as its required employer contribution to pension plans for state employees and what it has actually paid ― affects everything from the revenue available to fund public services like education and healthcare, to a state's bond rating and ability to pursue capital improvement projects. After decades of neglect from both Democratic and Republican administrations, Illinois now has the greatest total unfunded pension liability in the nation.
How policymakers deal with it going forward is everyoneís concern, because the ultimate resolution of Illinois' obligation to pay its unfunded pension liability will directly impact the state's solvency and ability to continue providing essential services.
The Illinois Retirement Security Initiative (IRSI)
Working with its partners, CTBA created the Illinois Retirement Security Initiative to address these issues and create and advocate for policies to fix our pension funding problem. Click here to find out more about the IRSI or to become an endorser.
Click below to view a presentation given to members of the Governorís Pension System Modernization Task Force.
ďThe Illinois Funding CrisisĒ is a compelling presentation that highlights the history behind Illinoisí worst unfunded pension liability and how a responsible revenue stream can solve it. August 26, 2009
Analysis & Reports
Politics over policy: Swift ďReformĒ, Questionable Savings, Delayed Consequences Illinois Retirement Security Initiative Briefing Paper, *REVISED* May 14, 2010 This briefing paper examines the provisions and public policy implications of the new statute, which reduces retirement benefits for future public employees but fails to implement any real reforms needed to pay down the stateís huge debt for pension benefits already earned by current employees and retirees.
Pew Study Finds State's Face $1 Trillion Shortfall in Retiree Benefits, February 18, 2010.
The figures detailed in Pewís report, The Trillion Dollar Gap, include pension, health care and other non-pension benefits promised to both current and future retirees in statesí and participating localitiesí public sector retirement systems.
Politics Prevent Task Force from Exposing the Facts, IRSI Press Release, November 19, 2009
Taxpayer's Deserve to Know the Facts on State Retirement Benefits AFL-CIO Press Release on Pension Modernization Task Force, November 9, 2009
Written Testimony provided to the Pension Modernization Task Force - Funding Subcommittee, October 26, 2009
Reasons to Oppose SB 1292, May 12, 2009
Is Bigger Better? Article on consolidating Illinois pension systems, Pensions & Investments Magazine, April 23, 2009
HB 3798 Fact Sheet, March 18, 2009
$275-$610 million billed to taxpayers for new pension proposal, February 23, 2009
Debunking Illinois Pension Myths, February 2009
Chicago Tribune blames public sector employees for pension shortfall! Read IRSI's Response
An analysis of the five Illinois retirement systems finds that the state's worst-in-the-nation unfunded pension liability has grown by more than $7 billion in just the last two years. Lawmakers must act now to pay down the debt or its impact on the state budget will soon affect everything from education and health care to the state's bond rating and its ability to pursue capital improvement projects.
Summary of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability Report on the Financial Condition of the Illinois Public Employee Retirement Systems, July 2007
IRSI illustrates the source of Illinois' unfunded pension liability on this easy-to-use fact sheet.
IRSI gives you a glimpse of the reality of Illinois public servants: fact Sheet
The pension unfunded liability cannot be legislated away; the debt must be repaid. This means that when Illinois eventually decides to deal with the burgeoning unfunded liability, money will have to be taken from elsewhere, i.e education, transportation, human services, etc. Read: Illinois burgeoning unfunded liability, more than a pension problem!
Frequently Asked Questions