Illinois pensions devotes 15% of budget to retirement systems

Belleville News DemocratMarch 7, 2011 

Most states, on average, have to devote only about 4 percent of their budgets to pensions for government retirees.

But Illinois, in the upcoming fiscal year, will devote what amounts to roughly 15 percent of its budget toward the pensions of its retirees.

In essence, most other states are able to spend much larger chunks of their dollars on roads, public safety, education, health care, assistance for the poor or the elderly and other government services.

Pension contributions on average account for 2.9 percent of states' spending, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College puts the states' average slightly higher, at 3.8 percent.

Illinois' pension contribution in the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1, will be $5.4 billion, according to the state's auditor general.

Gov. Pat Quinn last month proposed a $35.4 billion budget for fiscal 2012.

The state's pensions are "gobbling up funds that would be better spent on education, health care or other important services," said Dea Meyer, vice president of the Civic Committee of The Commerce Club of Chicago. The group has pushed for pension reforms in Illinois and runs

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