'Every alarm going off with our pensions,' Caulkins says, but Springfield leaders not paying attention
Republican state Rep. Dan Caulkins (Decatur) struggles to understand why lawmakers in Springfield are ignoring an issue everyone in Illinois knows is out of control.
“We have every alarm going off with our pensions,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “Every organization from pension managers to those receiving the benefits knows there are major problems.”
Caulkins said it comes as no great surprise that a recent J.P. Morgan study concluded it would take more than half of all state revenue over the next 30 years to fully account for government worker retirement benefits as they are currently dispersed. A quarter of all state revenues are now allocated for such expenditures, easily making Illinois the state with the highest percentage of revenues set aside for pension benefits and retiree health care programs.
With liabilities reported to be as high as $250 billion, even with all the spending the state’s pension system remains woefully underfunded.
“Everybody knows we’re not in good shape,” Caulkins said. “The problem is the people responsible for making a difference don’t seem to be paying much attention.”
Caulkins said it amazes him that anyone could be thinking of adding more debt to the state the way Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget proposal would add at least $1 billion in new spending.
“It’s not only morally irresponsible, but downright criminal that anyone would be voting in favor of a budget that shorts the pension system at least at its minimum amount,” he said. “Unless or until we change the state constitution, that shouldn’t really be a consideration.”
Caulkins’ 101st House District includes parts of Champaign, DeWitt, Macon, McLean and Piatt counties.