Illinois Has Become Another Greece

View as PDF CHICAGO—The State of Illinois has become an economic disaster-area just like the country of Greece, according to Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayer Education Foundation, and for the same reasons. We can learn by studying what happened in Greece, but will we?

“The causes and results of the economic insolvency of Greece and Illinois are frighteningly similar,” said Tobin. “In both cases, the long-term control of both governments by corrupt, left-wing politicians has created a climate of dependency and entitlement, cynically used by politicians to keep themselves in office.”

“Lavish, gold-plated pensions in Greece and Illinois have put both entities beyond the point of no return. They literally can’t tax their way out of this dire situation, though the pols in Illinois will try. Most of the dollars from the recent 67% increase in the Illinois State personal income tax went into, and are still going into, the state government-employee pension funds. Yet these funds are still functionally bankrupt. There are now 12,154 Illinois government pensions over $100,000 and 85,893 over $50,000. Those are staggering numbers considering the taxpayers who fund these pensions get an average Social Security pension of about $15,000 a year.”

“The recent, anemic ‘pension reform’ bill in Illinois would have accomplished very little, and even it was declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. In Greece, the ‘reforms’ offered by the government were a sham. While the Greek minimum retirement age was raised to 62, the so-called reforms allowed older workers to retire with the same lavish pensions as before. Most of those planning to retire in this decade were grandfathered and are not subject to the reforms.”

“In Illinois, certain jobs allow and even encourage early retirement with full benefits, due to the ‘strenuousness’ of the job, such as Illinois State Police officers, who must endure the stress of issuing tickets to motorists. In Greece, strenuous jobs now include Greek hairdressers.”

Illinois, along with the city of Chicago, and Greece have all kicked the can down the road by borrowing to fund their very generous pensions. When it comes time to pay back the loans, the politicians expect taxpayers to foot the bill.”

“Greece is insolvent and can never recover economically. Illinois, and its largest city, Chicago, also have reached this point. Only an amendment to the Illinois Constitution can allow true pension reform, and even then, it may be too late. The Illinois General Assembly must vote to allow local governments to declare bankruptcy, which would allow restructuring of their debts, including the back-breaking government-employee pension plans.”

“Illinois taxpayers can thank House Speaker Michael Madigan (D), Senate President John J. Cullerton (D), and the former spendthrift Democrat and Republican governors for the desperate situation in which Illinois finds itself.”

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