“Illinois is Broke” Launches TV Ad Campaign

Failure to act in veto session will cost IL taxpayers another $7+ billion

Chicago, Ill. – Just one week from the start of the state legislature’s fall veto session, the Illinois Is Broke campaign is ratcheting up pressure on lawmakers to address the state’s badly underfunded pension systems before tackling all other issues. Today, the campaign launched a sobering television advertisement warning Springfield to reform pensions now or “our children will pay.”

The 30-second spots, in English and Spanish, will begin airing on Tuesday, October 18th and are scheduled to run through the veto sessions, which begin October 25th. The television campaign will be supplemented with a billboard, print and radio campaign, timed to coincide with the legislative sessions. In addition to nightly newscasts, the spots will run during sporting events, and programming such as 60 Minutes.

“Illinois faces a $140 billion debt in retirement-related obligations and simply does not have the money to meet them,” said Ty Fahner, president of the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago. “This issue impacts every person in Illinois, and the problem grows larger each day we fail to act. If the legislature does not pass pension reform for current employees this session, another $7+ billion in taxpayer dollars will be lost to political timidity.”

Recent reports have uncovered a litany of pension abuses – including double- and triple-dipping – that weaken the already-strapped funds. “On the heels of a 67% tax increase,” said Civic Committee Chairman Jim Farrell, “it is more than disheartening to discover the abuse of the pension system that comes at the expense of hardworking taxpayers and employees. This exacerbates the real problem- a dangerously underfunded pension system with benefits that are richer than most taxpayers.”

In front of state legislators this fall is Senate Bill 512, which would restructure pension plans for current employees in a way that protects benefits earned to date and also begins to put Illinois’ future back on sound financial footing.

“We released a study on the state’s financial status in 2006, which clearly outlined that Illinois was headed towards financial implosion,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately, that day is just around the corner, unless our state leaders reform the pension system now. Although this issue is not new, the urgency to address it has never been more critical. Let’s all work together and do what must be done to get our state back on a sound financial track.”

According to a study by the Pew Center on the States, Illinois has the worst funded pension systems in the nation.

The Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago launched its Illinois Is Broke campaign in 2010 to address the pension crisis in Illinois. To learn more about the Illinois Is Broke campaign, visit IllinoisIsBroke.com.