Thursday, August 03, 2006

Illinois Unfunded Liabilities Mess

Just in way of a not so sublte reminder, we present these numbers for your perusal:

Teacher's Retirement System $21,989,800,000
State Employees System $8,810,500,000
State Universities Retirement System $6,999,700,000
Judges Retirement System $671,600,000
General Assembly Retirement System $129,600,000
Total Unfunded Liability $38,601,200,000

Media attention has been focused upon these underfunded systems for which the State is responsible for making contributions. However, there are several other publicly funded systems not accounted for in the above which municipalities and counties fund. Here are their unfunded amounts:

Chicago Police $3,101,300,000
Chicago Fire $1,610,900,000
Cook County Employees $2,750,000,000
Chicago Municipal Employees $2,465,400,000
Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund $2,154,200,000
Downstate Police $1,921,800,000
Downstate Fire $1,114,900,000
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District $416,600,000
Cook County Forest Preserve District $158,800,000
Chicago Park District $128,300,000
Chicago Laborers $24,600,000
Chicago Teachers $1,713,500,000
Total Unfunded Liability $17,560,300,000

We've highlighted those applicable to Woodford County. All of these pension systems together carry a cumulative cost of $56,161,500,000 in unfunded liability. In other words, these public pension systems have over 56 billion dollars in obligations for which no money has yet been set aside. To put this into perspective, the Governor's proposed FY 2007 budget calls for 45.4 billion dollars in spending; total!

Letters From: Macon County (Decatur)

One of our buddies down in Decatur writes:
"As taxpayers, it is very discouraging to realize that because our government is not willing to cut their spending, we as taxpayers are forced to cut ours."

We agree. He continues:

We have always advocated lower local taxes, both sales and property taxes. Today (June 19, 2006), we held a rally on the steps of the County Court House to promote a petition drive to call for Lower Property Taxes Now. Decatur and Macon County have some of the highest sales and property taxes in Illinois. If we require more fiscal discipline from our elected leaders, they can "Show Us The Money" and let us keep our taxes.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Blago's "Pre-school For All" (well, for some)

Let's all just agree that the names for the Health Insurance and Pre-School initiatives are political branding, and have nothing to do with really covering expenses "for all". That will save us considerable time and effort.

Now, with regard to the 10,000 or so 3 and 4 year old children proposed to be "guaranteed" pre-school the first year, wouldn't it just make a lot more sense to mandate attendance for 5 or 6 year olds at kindergarten? Illinois doesn't require schooling until a child reaches 7 years old!

Illinois also keeps no statistics what-so-ever on what age children do start kindergarten nor how many skip straight to first grade!

Thus, aren't we putting the cart a bit before the horse with a pre-school initiative? Of course, "Kindergarten for all" just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?