SPRINGFIELD-Illinois’pension problems that led to a sweeping overhaul package now being challenged by public-sector unions in the state’s courtsis hardly a new problem.
But the idea that the practice of shorting Illinois’ pension systems dates back nearly 100 years is a new finding included in one of the most comprehensive historical looks at what led up to the state’s $100 billion pension crisis.
Eric Madiar, chief legal counsel to Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, has published a report on the subject for the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and The University of Illinois School of Labor and Employment that shows pension underfunding was a problem as far back as 1917.
“For public officials and the general public, Illinois’ underfunded state and municipal pension systems are a well-known problem and hardly a surprise,” Madiar wrote. “What is surprising, however, is how long the lack of proper funding has been the primary cause of that problem.”
A legislative report Madiar unearthed from 1917 characterized the health of underfunded state public-pension systems then as “one of insolvency” and “moving toward crisis.”