It’s long past time that we solved our public pension crisis. With anywhere from $140 billion to $250 billion in unfunded pension liability, this debt is a dark cloud hanging over Illinois, bringing us to the brink of bankruptcy and scaring away businesses and potential employers. This is an immense problem that we must address now.

 

This isn’t the fault of our teachers, police officers, and firefighters who served our communities for years. They did their part. The problem was caused by politicians in Springfield. They intentionally overestimated the return on investment, underestimated the life expectancy of the employees, and failed to contribute into the funds. They knew what they were doing, yet they kept making empty promises to their supporters in order to get re-elected.

 

This crisis is hurting everyone in Illinois, and we all have a vested interest in solving the problem. The first step when you find yourself in a deep hole is to stop digging. We need to move to a system where all employees hired from here on will get a defined contribution plan, like those of us in the private sector, not a defined benefit plan with compounding interest.

 

We then need to repeal Article 13 Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution, which would finally allow us to pass fair, meaningful, and sustainable pension reform in Illinois that provides public workers consideration in their pensions while reducing the unfunded liability.

 

We cannot continue to kick the can down the road. When residents flee Illinois, their portion of the debt still has to be paid by someone, which means the burden becomes even heavier for the rest of us. The longer we procrastinate, the bigger this problem will grow.