Rep. Halbrook argues that Chicago pension bailout plea strengthens case for city-state separation
State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) considers his argument for Illinois becoming legally separated from the City of Chicago even stronger now that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is pushing for the state to take over the city’s massive pension debt.
“There’s no reason why downstaters should be paying the bills for someone else,” Halbrook told the East Central Reporter. “It seems evident that when we thought they were out of cans to kick they figured out another can to kick. Downstaters are enraged and it’s just one more reason why people are leaving the state every four minutes, and the separation movement is gaining momentum every day.”
According to Wirepoints, Lightfoot’s plan calls for the city’s debt to be merged with that of other pension plans across the state, leaving Illinois taxpayers responsible for the astronomical tab that would ensue. The plan would also save Lightfoot from coming up with roughly $1 billion in new city taxes over the next 36 months to cover the rising pension costs in Chicago.
“It is exactly a bailout,” Halbrook said. “We see time and time again that [Chicago politicians] create theses messes, then come to Springfield and look for a bailout.”
Presently, the four pension funds run by the city are funded at just 27 percent, according to Wirepoints, adding that the annuities face an official shortfall in the neighborhood of $28 billion. By comparison, the 650 downstate pensions are reported to be funded at a rate of at least twice that size, with a shortfall of far less than half.
Halbrook said angry residents all across the state have had enough.
“We see the outrage on social media," he said. "We see it when we go to town halls. But most of the people, if they can, they are just pulling up stakes and moving out of state.”