Pension Reform

Chicago’s True Pension Debt Exceeds $87 Billion

Despite official reports claiming that Chicago citizens are buried beneath a seemingly insurmountable $33 billion in debt, the truth is worse. Much worse. Let’s look at the math.

Chicago’s four City pension plans together account for the $19 billion in unfunded liabilities cited by public officials and outlets like the Chicago Tribune. State Budget Solutions’ fair-market value analysis, however, shows they are underfunded by $46.6 billion. Add in the pension plans for city teachers and Park District employees, along with Chicago resident’s share of unfunded liabilities from the Transit Authority, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and Cook County and Chicago taxpayers face a staggering $87.3 billion in unfunded public pension liabilities alone.

Clearly, official estimates radically understate the size of Chicago’s unfunded pension liabilities. Not only should taxpayers worry that the dysfunctional state legislature in Springfield will fail to enact meaningful pension reform, but public employees should ask serious questions about their future retirement security.


In Depth: Pension Reform

Modern, 401(k)-style plans are now commonplace in the private sector. For state workers, however, traditional pensions are still the norm. As former Utah State Senator Dan Liljenquist wrote in Keeping the Promise: State Solutions for Government Pension Reform, this is not a partisan issue, but a math problem. State Budget …

+ Pension Reform In Depth