Where Illinois’ skyrocketing pension promises came from

By Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner:

Wirepoints’ recent commentary on Illinois’ skyrocketing pension benefits — “Janus v AFSCME and the truth about Illinois pensions” — left many readers questioning where that massive growth in pension promises came from.

In our report “Illinois state pensions: Overpromised, not underfunded,” we showed how the growth in total pension promises to state workers and retirees has overwhelmed Illinois’ economy and residents’ ability to pay. Illinois’ total pension promises since 1987 are up 1,061 percent, 4.5 times more than the growth in the state economy.

The answer to where that growth came from is simple. The growth is due to overly generous benefits. In addition, reality occasionally forces more honest disclosure of the true cost of pension promises made. In other words, more accurate reporting also pushes the numbers up.

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