Public pension systems pose a complex challenge. Incremental changes in benefits or assumptions today can create exponential economic impacts decades into the future. The issue is compounded when considering the stalemate that exists among stakeholders. We have spent the past several months compiling research in an effort to discern the underlying cause of the State of Illinois’ public pension systems poor condition. We first assembled a complete dataset of the State’s public pension information dating back to 1985. We then cast our research net far and wide, we found no consensus, yet almost every party agreed reforms are needed. Academic papers, while thorough, typically result in lengthy, technical pieces that are a cumbersome read for most. News articles tend to only scratch the surface, limited by word count and worn thesauruses. Our approach is to present our findings in a five part series over the course of the coming weeks. Each part will examine a different important topic with the goal of building a comprehensive and balanced understanding of Illinois’ pension issues.
The first release in our series deals with Illinois pension basics. Its focuses on Illinois’ pension framework, governance, and actuarial valuation practices.