Did you know Riverbender.com is free for you thanks to our awesome advertisers? We noticed you're using an ad block software. Help us spread the word and give our sponsors some exposure by disabling your ad blocking service for Riverbender.com.
dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Illinois state lawmakers are highlighting what they’d like the governor to address during his State of the State later this month.
Gov. Bruce Rauner delivers his third State of the State address Jan. 31 to a joint session of the House and Senate, and one focus could be pensions.
State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said how to deal with continued deficit spending is one of the most pressing issues. But the elephant in the room, he said, is Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension debt.
Click here for summary
Illinois lists its unfunded pension liability at $130 billion, though many actuaries say it's significantly more than that because the state inflates its anticipated return on investments.
Batinick has proposed a pension buyout plan he said could save taxpayers billions of dollars down the road, but the state needs to reverse its trend of continuous population loss.
“The more people you keep in this state,” Batinick said, “the more that that legacy cost is spread out amongst more people. And the more economic growth you have, the easier it’s going to be to deal with the pension crisis.”
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said pension reform is going to be tough.
“If we’re going to change any pensions, it has to be negotiated with the employees that are going to be affected,” Manar said.
Manar also said he’d like to hear Rauner bring both parties together with healing words to solve the state’s problems.
State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, said as the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, she wants the governor to focus on funding education.
“I think the governor should continue, he says it, but he needs to act on making education a No. 1 priority,” she said.
State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, noted the major strides made for education funding reform already and said she hopes Rauner emphasizes the need for spending reductions.
“We will have to do that in a bipartisan way, but I think that this is an opportunity to come out really strong and say, ‘Here’s the case for why we have to change. Here’s the issues we’ve seen in the past,’” Bourne said.
Partisan gridlock is also an issue, but Bourne said Rauner needs to persuade Democrats of the need for spending controls to shore up the state’s structural budget imbalances.
Two weeks after the State of the State address Jan. 31, Rauner will deliver his third budget address as governor for the coming fiscal year. That address is Feb. 14 in Springfield.