Debunking Illinois Pension Myths!


February 26, 2009

Among the most discussed – but least accurately portrayed – spending pressures that contribute to the state’s fiscal problems, is Illinois’ unfunded pension liability owed to the state’s five public employee retirement systems: the State Employee Retirement System (‘SERS’ – currently 46.1% funded), the Downstate Teachers’ Retirement Systems (‘TRS’ – currently 56% funded), the State Universities Retirement System (‘SURS’ – currently 58.5%), the Judges Retirement System (‘JRS’ – currently 42%) and the General Assembly Retirement System (‘GARS’ – currently 32% funded). Maybe the problem gets misrepresented so frequently due to its enormous scale, an unfunded liability that exceeds $54.4 billion, the worst of any state in the nation. Or, perhaps the current legislation covering repayment of the liability, frequently called the ‘Pension Ramp’, which backloads costs and creates escalating fiscal pressure over the long term, causes people to misconstrue the issue. Whatever the reason, almost the entire discussion of what caused the state’s unfunded liability to develop in the first place, as well as how best to address the problem in the long run, is woefully off point, dominated by myth and rhetoric, and contrary to the data. This Fact Sheet dispels some of the more common, and egregious, myths involving Illinois’ unfunded pension liability.

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Topics:Pensions, Public Pensions

Tags:State Pensions, Defined Contribution