Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Death by sweetener

Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Chicago Tribune
by Chicago Tribune editorial staff

Back in November, we added a dark new dimension — a number somewhere "north of $7,000" — to the discussion of how badly your state lawmakers have buried this state's pension system in debt. That 7 grand is the amount of unfunded pension liabilities that may confront you and every one of Illinois' 12.9 million citizens by the end of June.

If you add up all the overpromising and overborrowing and failures to fully fund state pensions, you get a total approaching $95 billion. Dividing that amount by the state's population puts your personal state pension debt … north of $7,000. Every person in your family, the baby included? Another $7,000 apiece. Your every neighbor? Every co-worker? You could have everyone send $7,000 now, in care of a state legislator who represents you. He or she can collect the rest when the final number gets calculated in June.

Be sure you keep that north-of-$7,000 in mind Wednesday if Gov. Pat Quinn proposes anything short of major pension reforms. Team Quinn has signaled that he'll try more of the Illinois trickery that keeps driving your personal pension debt further to the north.

But that's just your state pension indebtedness. You didn't think you were finished, did you? What about all the local and regional governmental bodies that promise pensions?

On Monday the Civic Federation of Chicago delivered the miserable news you might have expected: Given the unfunded obligations totaling $18.5 billion at 10 big Chicago-area pension funds, every Chicagoan is on the hook for another $5,821 in unfunded promises to public-sector workers. Ten years ago, that number was $1,189 — barely one-fifth of what it is today.

Here's an especially maddening way to look at this gross overcommitment of taxpayer dollars: During the decade that ended in fiscal 2008, the Civic Federation says, pension pledges at these 10 governmental bodies grew by 68.9 percent. In the same years, the funding of all those pension promises grew by only 26.4 percent.

Now you know why each Chicagoan's pension debt shot to $5,821 so fast.

Note, though, that you don't have to live in the city to get dinged by some of the liabilities in the Civic Federation report. Four of the 10 funds do cover City of Chicago workers (police, fire, laborers and others). The Chicago Park District, Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Public Schools are also on the list. But so are Cook County, the Cook County Forest Preserve District and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. So if you're a Cook suburbanite, you could have those final three to worry about, plus whatever obligations face your municipal government. Some suburban officials rightly complain that the legislature sweetens pensions and the locals have to pick up the cost.

You can find the full report at CivicFed.org. Live in a collar county? We hope you and your local governments are in better shape.

Monday's report offers only the latest examples of how government officials have mortgaged the future of Illinois by awarding pension sweeteners that taxpayers simply cannot afford.

The report offers numerous proposed solutions — all of them smart, all of them likely to be opposed by public employee unions and many legislators. In December, the Tribune's John Keilman reported on a particularly insidious variant: public safety pension payouts that state lawmakers impose on municipalities. Did you know that Illinois police and firefighters can receive a full pension — 75 percent of pay — as early as age 50? And "pay" is determined by their final day of service, not an average of their last few years' salaries?

Yes, lots of Illinois public employees have received lots of pension sweeteners. The question now is whether state lawmakers and local officials will take some sugar off the table.



Recent Headlines

Editorial: What happened to the elk?
Friday, August 10, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wells Fargo to offer $15,000 grants to potential Cook County homebuyers
Thursday, August 09, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Suit alleges Cook County detainees secretly monitored in bathrooms in holding cells at courthouses
Wednesday, August 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Half the elk at Busse Woods died last year, and officials aren’t sure why
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Chicago Tribune

A letter from Dr. Jay Shannon regarding gun violence and Stroger Hospital
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

As Evanston adapts to minimum wage hike, nearby towns say they have no plan to join in
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit could blast a $250 million hole in county budget
Monday, August 06, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Pappas: Automatic refunds of $19.5 million going to 53,000 homeowners because of property tax cuts
Monday, August 06, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Thousands of Cook County homeowners to receive property tax refunds
Monday, August 06, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Board Adopts Resolution Concerned With Foxconn Impacts
Thursday, August 02, 2018
Journal and Topics Media Group

FBI: Ex-employee alleges Dorothy Brown picked up cash payoffs at bagman's home
Thursday, August 02, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Demolition of MWRD dam to clear way for fish and recreation
Wednesday, August 01, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

EXCLUSIVE: Sheriff Tom Dart to pair inmates with pet dogs
Wednesday, August 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

County Minimum Wage, Sick Time Advisory Questions Approved for November Ballot
Wednesday, August 01, 2018
Journal and Topics Media Group

Editorial: Berrios and Kaegi: What a new assessor can and can't fix
Thursday, July 26, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Your Personal Data May Be Exposed in Cook County Traffic Records
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
CBS Chicago

Garcia avoids public tiff with Preckwinkle, delays plan for county revenue forecasting commission
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County TIF districts bring in $1 billion
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County board moves to prevent repeat of pop tax fiasco
Friday, July 20, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County forest worker was going 76 mph in 30 mph zone, had THC in system during fatal crash while on job: prosecutors
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP