Nonpartisan group encourages dialogue on impact of pension decision
Chicago, IL – The Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago wants to elevate the dialogue and encourage discussion around the most critical issue facing the State of Illinois – pension reform.
“While the Illinois General Assembly did its job and passed meaningful legislation, the state remains in a very difficult position,” said Ty Fahner, President of the Civic Committee. “All elected officials and candidates, especially those running for election or re-election this fall, must answer the question, ‘What If’ the Court overturns the law? Given the significant impact this decision will have on the state and its citizens, it’s imperative that everyone understands the consequences.”
The “What If?” initiative identifies some of the consequences that could result from an overturn of the pension law, including:
- $145 billion in higher taxes and service cuts over 30 years
- Highest property taxes in the nation
- 41¢ of Big Three state tax dollars devoted to pensions, up from 8¢ in 2007
- A possible $2,500 tuition spike at the University of Illinois
- Severe cuts to K-12 education, leading to as many as 13,000 teacher layoffs
- Critical meltdown of social services, including the end of child care for 41,000 kids and 21,000 seniors losing in-home care
According to a study by the Pew Center on the States, Illinois has the worst funded pension systems in the nation. The Illinois General Assembly passed pension reform legislation which was signed into law in December 2013. The law was challenged and will eventually proceed to the Illinois Supreme Court.
“We need to have an open and honest conversation and address the harsh realities about what could happen and what it would mean to Illinois residents, especially those most vulnerable,” said Fahner. “It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it certainly is the right thing to do given what’s at stake. Now is the time to have this conversation.”
The Civic Committee is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization of senior executives of the region's largest employers that works with public officials and other civic organizations for the social and economic well-being of the region.