Share the article: Members of House and Senate Democratic Leadership Critical Of Pritzker’s Plan To Skip Pension Payments

Willis and Lightford join others who have spoken out against Pritzker’s proposal to skip pension payments over the next seven years, including $1.1 billion next year alone

“It’s a good sign for Illinois taxpayers and retired public employees that top Democratic lawmakers in Springfield are throwing cold water on J.B. Pritzker’s plan to skip pension payments. It’s not too late for other Democratic lawmakers to join them. Our state cannot afford a repeat of the past pension gimmicks. With the end of session rapidly approaching, Pritzker and Democratic lawmakers must rein in their unrealistic spending proposals if our state is to protect taxpayers and meet its obligations to public employees and retirees.” – Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot

In a misguided effort to increase spending while attempting to close Illinois’ multi-billion dollar budget deficit, Governor J.B. Pritzker has proposed reducing state payments to the state’s five public pension systems for the next seven years. Pritzker’s administration has refused to detail what the total cost of the pension holiday would be to taxpayers in the long-term. One analysis shows that just next year alone, Pritzker is proposing a $1.1 billion reduction in pension payments. Skipping pension payments threatens the integrity of our state’s pension system while exposing taxpayers to increased liabilities in the future.

Capitol Fax’s
Rich Miller recently called Pritzker’s proposal “preposterous.”

And Pritzker’s plan was not received well by some top Democratic lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly:

House Majority Conference Chairperson Kathleen Willis: “[W]e don’t want to repeat history. We don’t want to see this. We’re open to ideas. But that doesn’t necessarily mean this idea.”

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford: “I hope that [skipping pension payments] isn’t the desired goal.”

Willis and Lightford aren’t the first to speak out against Pritzker’s pension holiday. Here’s what others have said, including some groups who have been aligned with Democrats in the past:

Joint statement by the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the Illinois Education Association (IEA): “IFT and IEA oppose underfunding of the pension systems. While we support many of the concepts in the Governor’s proposal, like the sale of pension obligation bonds and re-amortization of the unfunded liability, we would urge that those concepts be implemented in a way that doesn’t fall short of the FY20 required payment.”

Unanimous statement by the Teachers’ Retirement System Board of Trustees: “TRS opposes any Fiscal 2020 budget for the state of Illinois that will appropriate to the System less than $4,813,577,696, the contribution calculated under state pension funding law and certified by the System on January 14, 2019. TRS opposes any extension of the target date currently in statute for the System to reach 90 percent funding. The target should remain no later than fiscal year 2045.”

Illinois Retired Teachers Association President Roger Hampton: “Delaying pension payments just kicks the can down the road again and costs future generations of Illinois taxpayers (if any left) billions of dollars.”

Illinois Retired Teachers Association Executive Director Jim Bachman: “This is the same road that we’ve gone down many times… [Pritzker] said it was his intent to be putting more into the system, if possible, to reduce that debt, but in lieu of that we went the opposite way.”


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