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Bailey: Illinois pensions’ ‘day of reckoning’ is coming | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – With the recent Illinois Department of Insurance 2023 Biennial Pension report finding that households across the state are now on the hook for an average of $40,000 in unpaid pension debt, former state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, is calling for “common sense governance” to have any chance of breaking the cycle.

“I’ve been warning the residents of Illinois for the last six years, since I’ve been serving in Springfield and running for governor, that the credit upgrades our governor is touting are absolute falsehoods,” Bailey told The Center Square. “That’s all COVID money that he continues to spend to make things look rosier than they really are. The reality is things are going to come to a screeching halt very, very quickly in Illinois.”

Overall, researchers at DOI highlight that Illinois residents are now on the hook for $207 billion in unpaid pension costs, with the debt continuing to accumulate despite Illinois state and local governments having pocketed some $200 billion in federal COVID relief tax funds. Much of that funding was ultimately used to pay off unpaid bills, bolster long-sagging revenues and upgrade the state’s credit rating

“I don’t know if [Gov. J.B. Pritzker] is propping himself to run for president, that’s the only logical thing I can figure out why he would be doing this,” added Bailey, who faced off against Pritzker in the 2022 governor’s race. “He knows very well that our credit rating is not legitimately improving. There will be massive layoffs, shortfalls in services and that’s going to be the hard reality people in Illinois face … that day of reckoning is coming.”

With residents as frustrated as they are, Bailey argued he sees just one way forward when it comes to calming all the outrage.

“We need to start electing true conservatives in government, so they fight and won’t cower down,” he said. “We need to be electing more people who have real workplace experience. I have contended that ever since I started running, when the Illinois budget was $32 billion in 2017, I’ve contended with some modest increases we had what we need, we just need to reprioritize our spending.”

Instead, Bailey argues that the state’s spending budget is now set at more than $50 billion, the highest ever.

“I don’t think [Pritzker] ever had any financial shortfalls in his life,” he said. “I can’t help but think that’s the same mentality with the state and it’s awful easy in the position he’s at to just talk legislators into increasing taxes, more spending. Unfortunately, that money’s not coming out of a trust or investment. It’s coming out the pockets of taxpayers.”



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