Pension Reform Hot Topic for Illinois Gov’s State of the State Address

State representative hopes for reversal of population migration trend to battle pension crisis.

State pension is one of several topics Illinois lawmakers hope Gov. Bruce Rauner will tackle later this month in his  State of the State address, the Illinois News Network reports.

In terms of tackling the pension debt, which currently stands at $130 billion in unfunded liabilities, State Rep. Mark Batinick and State Sen. Andy Manar know the road will be rough, with Batinick having proposed a buyout plan last year.

Batinick’s plan, which allows inactive members of pension systems an opportunity to receive  a lump-sum payment that can not only then be rolled over into other retirement accounts, but may also be included in a member’s will, seeks to save taxpayers billions. However, state residents are leaving at an alarming rate due to high taxes that help cover the pension deficit, and Batinick stressed that in order for pensions to be preserved, the state needs to retain its population.

“The more people you keep in this state,” Batinick told the Illinois News Network, “the more that that legacy cost is spread out amongst more people. And the more economic growth you have, the easier it’s going to be to deal with the pension crisis.”

Manar added that if and when pension reform talks begin, affected employees should be involved in the negotiation process.

In addition to closing the state pension gap, educational funding and partisan gridlock were also among the topics lawmakers expect Rauner to address.

Rauner, who is up for reelection later this year, is expected to deliver his State of the State address January 31, with his state budget address to follow two weeks later on February 14.


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