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Illinois Gubernatorial Candidates Talk Public Pensions

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The next Illinois Governor will inherit a public pension system that is considered the most underfunded the country.
It's been a problem for years, as Governors and lawmakers have failed to put enough money into pensions.

Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford looks at what the candidates say they will do to improve the situation:

Just two days after the November election, the Illinois Senate is expected to approve borrowing nearly $4 billion to pay for pensions this year.

Governor Pat Quinn supports the move. Quinn also says he took one of the biggest steps toward savings in the spring when the state scaled back benefits starting with those hired next year.

Quinn says he'll keep working with employee unions.

QUINN: I see collective bargaining as an opportunity to work with those who work for the state, those who are teachers, to get public pension reform.

Republican Bill Brady won't rule out borrowing billions to restructure debt if the interest rates are at a low level. He also wants to completely reshape pensions for state and university workers, teachers outside of Chicago and even lawmakers.

BRADY: It means moving to what the private sector has done, an employee-owned, 401(k)-like system where politicians can't steal money from the pensions, and it has to be funded on an annual basis.

Green Party hopeful Rich Whitney calls that plan risky. Whitney says he'll return the state to a payment schedule designed to get the system fully funded over the next few decades.