State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford is opposed to
the State of Illinois skipping pension payments.
ACCORDING TO Illinois State Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D), in March, during a committee meeting at the Capitol, officials from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office and Senate Republicans “defended their plan to skip pension payments to make the governor’s budget appear balanced,” Lightford said.
“IN ORDER to bridge any gap in State spending, the legislation backed by Gov. Rauner and sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno would give the governor unprecedented power to raid local government accounts and skip pension payments –despite decades of evidence detailing the perils of doing so,” Lightford added.
SENATE DEMOCRATS do not support skipping any payments.
“IT’S BEEN nearly 100 years since we’ve known about this problem, and it seems some people still haven’t learned from past mistakes,” Lightford said. “Avoiding paying our pension liabilities forces an unfair burden on workers and does nothing to get Illinois back on track. In times of crisis, leaders find solutions to problems. They don’t run from them.”
AS EARLY as 1979, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s warned Illinois that its AAA bond rating would be in jeopardy if it did not tackle its increasing unfunded pension liabilities.
“THE GOP push to skip pension payments comes even as the State’s pension debt tops $100 billion,” Lightford said. “Studies have shown that more than 40 percent of that debt is due to past lawmakers and governors skipping or shorting pension payments.
“THIS, TO me, would be a big mistake,” Senate President John Cullerton said during committee debate on the Republican proposal.
CULLERTON’S LEGAL team found reports dating back to 1917 cautioning against the massive debt accumulating for future taxpayers because not enough was being invested in the pension funds.
“JUST LIKE skipping credit card payments, shirking responsibility and skipping pension payments now only makes the situation worse down the road,” Lightford said.
SENATE DEMOCRATIC leadership has advised Governor Rauner’s budget officials and Republican colleagues not to pursue skipping pension payments.
THE LEGISLATION is SB 2789.