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Our view: Pension reform didn't save us

Published: Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

In the wake of overhyped pension reform, experts are reminding us that Illinois’ financial woes are far from over.

In fact, they’re not much different.

According to the Institute for Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, as the pension systems eliminate their unfunded liability over the next 25 years, the state’s deficit would increase by $13 billion based on current spending and revenue.

Without the pension reform passed so far, that deficit would be $14 billion. And that prediction is based on the assumption that the Legislature plans to roll back the “temporary” income-tax increase from 5 percent to 3.75 percent.

So before we place a lot of stock in politicians who claim they’ve saved this state from financial collapse via tinkering with pension reform, consider that Illinois still is wallowing in debt and credit-rating agencies remain unimpressed.

We should expect that without significant changes in state leadership that the deficit will be used as justification, among others, to make the “temporary” income tax increase permanent as state leaders continue to kick the can down the road.

Without far more significant changes to pension reform, which the Legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn decided not to make, changes will have to be made elsewhere or Illinois’ fiscal problems will not improve.

Spending must be addressed. You will hear some politicians tell you that revenue also needs to be addressed, which means they want more of your taxes.

We’d urge residents to pay close attention to the solutions proposed as election season approaches over the next several months.

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