How Illinois became the nation's worst state funded pension system

By WEEK Reporter

December 3, 2013 Updated Dec 4, 2013 at 11:02 AM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The Illinois General Assembly voted Tuesday to enact reforms aimed at ending the state's pension crisis.

Even those backing the reforms of a bi-partisan committee of House and Senate members say it's not a great solution...but a first step.

So, how did Illinois's pension systems get under-funded by $100-billion? The answer: It took years of neglect.

Republican Dwight Green was in the Governor's Mansion when the pension crisis started.

The Teachers' Retirement System had been established in 1939.

How exactly to fund the pension system was not.

This document laments that Illinois pension costs were being kicked down the road for future generations. It's from 1949.

In fact, Illinois did not have a formal plan for funding the State pension systems until 1995.

Even then, the State's payments didn't fully fund state pensions.

Add in two recessions in the last dozen years when the investment income from pension funds dropped and the population aged crisis ensued.

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