Pension Costs Crowding Out Social Services

llinois' public pensions are eating up a bigger portion of the state's budget every year, leaving less money for education, health care and social services. Everyone in Illinois is feeling the consequences and things will only get worse unless the state addresses the pension crisis. If you're an Illinois resident, chances are you've felt the impact. It's real. And it's not going away. Read for yourself.

Blame pension mess for school cuts For states and municipalities nationwide, the swelling obligations are leaving officials with the quandary of where to allocate tax dollars -- to services such as education or toward retiree benefits. In Illinois, which has $5.3 billion in unpaid bills, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has likened the pension expense to a python strangling state finances.
Study peers over state's fiscal cliff The report, "Peering Over Illinois' Fiscal Cliff," contends that the state's structural budget gap will grow from $4 billion today to $14 billion in fiscal 2025... Given the bleak picture painted by the report, the state would have to cut education funding in the future to stop the bleeding. But Illinois already ranks dead last in the nation in the share of public school spending that state government covers. That puts more pressure on the property tax, which is the primary source of public school funding in Illinois.
'Just 60 days late is pretty good' Shorter payment delays welcome at senior agency Lifescape Community Services serves about 8,000 northern Illinois seniors every year through meal programs, adult-day services and general assistance with paperwork or referrals. The agency runs Meals on Wheels, the region's only home-delivered, community-based meal program serving thousands of homebound seniors and disabled adults. Lifescape Community Services Inc. is owed about $120,000 from the state of Illinois, funds due to the agency in July and August.
Moody's: Illinois Public Universities Strained by State Woes Illinois' $95 billion of unfunded liabilities strain both the state's budget and its liquidity, impacting the size of operating aid and the timing of those payments to the universities. The state is chronically behind on aid and closed out fiscal 2013 on June 30 owing $6 billion to aid recipients and vendors.
Blame pension mess for school cuts For schools already stretched thin, nearly every budget cut hits bone. Whitney Young High School is considering charging students to take a seventh class. Edgebrook Elementary stands to lose a teacher, two special education aides and has no cash for textbooks or toilet paper. Mitchell Elementary is losing three teachers and isn't buying any new computers, furniture or books for next year."
Illinois' $17-million-a-day pension crisis, by the numbers 893 Lane Tech High School students received their diplomas on Tuesday night. The $17 million dollars the state burns on pensions every day could pay the first year's tuition, books and supplies at the University of Illinois for each and every graduate in this room… Aside from a free ride at U of I for these grads, that $17 million a day could pay for Chicago Public Schools to hire 204 new teachers. The Chicago Police Department: 136 new officers. And the DuPage County Forest Preserve District says it could use the money to buy 100-acres of land.
Students pay when state stiffs community colleges Revenue supporting the city’s community college has historically resembled a three-legged stool of property taxes, tuition and state aid. Today, the stool is tipping over because [Highland Community College’s] state aid is fraction of what it used to be and those payments typically arrive three months later than they’re supposed to. Community colleges and practically any public or private sector agency that does business with Illinois is feeling the pinch of the state’s fiscal crisis.
Senate Democrats want more school money, not cuts Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed a $150 million reduction in general state aid for primary and secondary schools in the budget that begins July 1, largely because of the pressure of mounting pension obligations.
Knock yourselves out, Senators In preparation for the budget year that begins July 1, lawmakers in the House are considering cutting services, again, for the developmentally disabled. They are considering further reductions to child care programs for low-income families. They might have to cut payments for funerals and burials of those who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Also on the chopping block: schools for the deaf, the blind, the disabled.
Official: Illinois' human services staff too lean The Illinois Department of Human Services staff is so lean that caseworkers spend an average of only 42 minutes a year per family, the agency's chief said Thursday. The number of caseworkers has shrunk nearly 20 percent in the past seven years, according to agency numbers, while the number of people seeking assistance jumped by 47 percent. Yet… the state's fiscal condition does not have room for that many new caseworkers.
The state's surmounting debt is blocking the way for many transportation projects, lawmakers and building advocates said Monday… Sen. Dave Leuchtefeld, R-Okawville, said he is not sure another capital plan will provide the funding needed. He said the current focus in Springfield has been directed to funding state pensions.
State cuts make it harder to go to college in Illinois Illinois has cut its higher-education spending by 23.3 percent since 2008, which translates to roughly $1,425 less per student when adjusted for inflation.
Illinois' fiscal woes hit state university credit ratings Illinois' credit woes are spreading to public universities and governments that have ties to appropriations from the cash-strapped state. Moody's Investors Service late on Monday downgraded the credit ratings of four universities and revised the rating outlooks on four others to negative because of their reliance on state funding and the negative outlook it slapped on Illinois' A2 rating in December.
Deadbeat Illinois: State lags in payments to training center “Malcom Eaton, a training center and workplace for developmentally disabled adults, no longer can take on clients…. Because the state of Illinois is so far behind in promised payments.”
State home care program for elderly almost out of money
Quinn's budget: Pensions eat up everything else Rising pension costs will eat p all of the state's new revenue and more, meaning key areas such as aid to grade and high schools actually will have to be reduced, with schools losing $400 million.
Governor says he will rely on cuts because lawmakers can't agree to reduce pension debt Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday warned that he will unveil a "hard and difficult" spending plan during his Wednesday budget address, saying cuts will have to be made because of state leaders' inability to reduce the costs of government worker pensions… One area likely to take a hit is education, which already has been slashed by nearly $900 million since 2009.
“I’m very concerned,” says Kevin Casey, appointed by Governor Quinn in 2011 to overhaul the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities. “There are not enough services for everyone. If we don’t get the pension crisis solved, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
“Pension contributions are eating up money for other essential government programs and will go from $5 billion this fiscal year to $7 billion five years from now.”
“The pension crisis has Illinois lawmakers and other leaders scrambling to figure out how to fill a nearly $100 billion obligation, as the pension payment is taking up more and more of the state’s budget each year.”
“At the root of the financial problem lies the state’s unfunded pension liabilities – by some estimates, there is less than 40 cents on hand for every $1 of pension liability… In the long, run this may make the Chicago area a less-attractive market in which to either remain or relocate.”
“The strict segregation of inmates [by security stage] may become more difficult as the Illinois Department of Corrections struggles with budget cuts that have lead to fewer staff members while the prison population jumped – all before the closure of one major prison with another soon to follow.”
Deadbeat Illinois: Some vendors cease services because of payment delays “When the state of Illinois stopped expediting payments to Peoria/Pekin Yellow Checker Cab Co., the taxi business stopped transporting Medicaid patients to dialysis and other medical appointments.”
State must stop cutting mental health services “Efforts to increase availability of mental health services and de-stigmatize mental illness are necessary. Illinois was the No. 1 state for mental health budget cuts in 2012, and Gov. Quinn proposes another 40 percent in cuts. Two of nine state mental health institutions were closed.”
“Over the past four years, state aid to Illinois school districts has declined by more than $320 million, with funding now at its lowest level since 2007.”
“The problem is, ‘our Illinois’ is broke. Worse than that, it’s billions upon billions in the hold, a deadbeat to creditors and unable to fulfill its generous pension promises to workers.”
“When the state has to pay promised pensions even though the coffers are empty, said the governor, other priorities get squeezed—like schools, roads, and law enforcement.”
Growing consequences from Legislature’s inaction “Every time the Legislature kicks the pension-reform can down the road, the more at risk taxpayers, public services and public employees become… Illinois cannot afford for its political leaders to be devoid of leadership on this critical issue. The problem will not go away, only grow worse.”
As pension debt climbs in Illinois, other programs suffer “Budget projections released Friday (January 11, 2013) by Gov. Pat Quinn’s office predict education funding will be cut by almost $400 million in the next fiscal year. The forecast also calls for cuts to economic development programs and public safety.”
Deadbeat Illinois: Payment lag pushes care facilities to the brink “’[State nursing home] facilities have to go out and negotiate a longer payment cycle so they can continue to feed their residents,’ said Pat Comstock, executive director of Health Care Council of Illinois.”
“Illinois’ $95 billion pension debt is crowding out spending for almost everything else, including education, health care and human services. The state has $8 billion in unpaid bills.”