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A report issued last month by Wirepoints shows rather persuasively that the cause of the Illinois public-sector pension crisis has been the staggering increase in the benefits promised to public-sector employees rather than shortfalls in funding of pension systems by taxpayers.
The data show, for example, that, over the last 30 years, while Illinois household income has grown by 111%, promised state pension benefits have grown by 1,061%.
See the chart below, extracted from the report, which graphs Illinois population (relatively flat line) and pension plan membership (also relatively flat) with median household income in Illinois (slight rise) and inflation (also a slight rise, about equal to household income) with Illinois personal income (slightly higher rise) and State government revenues (also a slightly higher rise, keeping pace with the growth of personal income in Illinois) with the accrued liabilities of the public-sector pension systems (which skyrocket).
These data show the immense pressure that is exerted by public-sector unions on legislators and government officials, who curry favor with public-sector unions and their voter-workforces by granting ever larger pension promises the fulfillment of which is thrown over onto successor generations of taxpayers. This is material background for consideration of the stakes in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, the case involving the power of public-sector unions to coerce political contributions out of public-sector employees that is currently pending before the United States Supreme Court (Docket No. 16-1466, argued on February 26, 2018) and awaiting decision.
The full text of the Wirepoints report, which shows the sources of all data analyzed, is here: Wirepoints – Illinois Pension Crisis – Feb. 2018
Wirepoints is a Chicago-based think-tank specializing in research that “connects the dots between our economy, government, and business”.
It is led by its chairman and founder, Mark Glennon, and its president, Ted Dabrowski. The authors of the report are Mr. Dabrowski and John Klinger, a researcher on the Wirepoints staff. Mr. Glennon, an alumnus of Northwestern University, and Mr. Dabrowski, an alumnus of The University of Chicago and a former member of the staff of the Illinois Policy Institute, are both lawyers by training. Mr. Klinger, who also served for a time at the Illinois Policy Institute, is a relatively recent alumnus of Hillsdale College.
More information on Wirepoints can be found here: http://www.wirepoints.com/