K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Tiers and Fears: Illinois Is Ground Zero for the Public-Sector Pension Crisis

Adam Schuster:

Hundreds of billions of dollars in pension debt are dragging residents — and government at every level — under water.

It seems not only unfair, but also unreasonably costly, to force hundreds of millions of Americans to shoulder a burden that has nothing to do with them.

Only 4 percent of Americans working in the private sector have access to a defined-benefit pension plan as their sole form of retirement security. The rest of us must rely on some combination of 401(k)s, hybrid plans, or Social Security.

Yet the country is sitting on more than $4.7 trillion in public-pension debt at the state and local level.

To understand the problem, look no further than Illinois — Land of Lincoln and home to the nation’s worst state pension problem.

Here, politicians have made promises that they could never afford to keep. This has led to higher taxes, a constantly growing state debt load, diminished government services, and public-sector retirements that could run dry before many workers hang up their hats.