Illinois Budget Woes: Still Smoking – WSJ

On June 9, “Heard on the Street” said it:

The state’s decision to legalize gambling and marijuana helps immediate problems but delays the state’s inevitable financial collapse

This week, Crain’s Chicago Business referred to it in an assessment by Mark Glennon, of Wirepoints, “Why Illinois pols haven’t fixed our fiscal crisis,” which supports that dire prediction.

Headlines earlier this month focused on Mayor Lori Lightfoot groping for ways to deal with Chicago’s increased pension and other costs over the next few years. Lightfoot floundered looking for revenue solutions to the city’s own near-term bills—a state bailout and taxes on retirement income, which were shot down quickly. That’s unfortunate because the narrow focus masks far bigger problems for Chicago taxpayers.

She gropes and flounders, Pritzker joined her in helping to

create the trap they are in. “Pensions are a promise,” they both said to get elected, ruling out any benefit cuts. Either they break that promise or our crisis will deepen.

Both were elected easily, so far are a pair of gropers and flounderers.

See also Wirepoint’s analysis

starting with unfunded pension liability numbers from Moody’s Investor Services. They use more realistic assumptions than are used in official reports.

And a pension actuary writing in Forbes:

“I can only repeat again and again: There is no solution to the woefully underfunded pensions in Chicago and in Illinois that does not involve benefit cuts subsequent to a 2020 constitutional amendment or municipal bankruptcy. And the sooner Pritzker and Lightfoot figure that out, the better off we’ll all be.”

Voters should

tell Lightfoot and Pritzker their campaign promise against pension reform is void. Tell them Springfield’s myriad unfunded mandates strangling all units of Illinois government must end. Tell them that pretty much every financial reform you’ve heard about must be effectuated immediately.

Which is to say, pray for a miracle.

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