‘It’s unsustainable’: Author of Forbes article on Illinois pension liabilities talks to WGN


Forbes magazine took a closer look at the financial issues Illinois is facing, and the article has been making the rounds on social media. The report’s author Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of OpenTheBooks.com, spoke with WGN Morning News Monday.

According to Andrzejewski, the state’s pension situation is so underfunded that a family of four owes more in pension liabilities than their actual income. It would cost every person in Illinois about $19,000 to cover the state’s $251 billion pension liability.

“Illinois just may have crossed the rubicon. Who has the plan to bring the state back?” he said. “It’s unsustainable.”

OpenTheBooks.com has an Illinois map that shows where public employees have salaries or pensions that are $100,000 or more. Nearly 110,000 public employees make over $100,000, according to the site. See the map here.

Here are other findings from OpenTheBooks.com:

  • Tree trimmers in Chicago making $106,663
  • Nurses at state corrections earning up to $277,100
  • Junior college presidents making $491,095
  • University doctors earning up to $2 million
  • 111 small town managers who out-earned every governor of the 50 states ($202,000)

So what is the solution? Andrzejewski said Gov. JB Pritzker’s income tax hike, which is on the ballot this November, is one. Another is a federal bailout, which Illinois Senate President Don Harmon wrote to Congress for last week.

A third solution, Andrzejewski said, is what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently suggested, that states like Illinois should declare bankruptcy and “clean the slate.”

Watch Andrzejewski’s full interview in the player above.


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