Batinick: Pension Problem Remains Fixture in 2019 State Budget

SPRINGFIELD — Today Governor JB Pritzker gave his Budget Address to the General Assembly, where he outlined his fiscal priorities for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The Governor’s address included a five-point pension reform plan to deal with the State’s $130 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), a member on the Personnel & Pensions Committee, was alarmed with the Governor’s proposal to extend the $878 million pension payment, an idea that to Batinick only prolongs the problem but does nothing to fix the system. In response to today’s budget address, Rep. Batinick released the following statement:

“I came away from the Governor’s remarks with doubts as to how this plan will really make a difference in our state’s finances. It paints a picture filled with rainbows and unicorns by using sources of revenue that don’t even exist yet. This is an unrealistic block to build the future of our state on, and one that I believe will fall short of Governor Pritzker’s lofty expectations.

“Our fiscal problems are extensive, and will not be solved overnight, but we can work to lay the foundation for real reforms. We cannot prolong our pension payments and push these obligations down the road for later generations to deal with. Shortchanging our pension payment by over $800 million is not the answer, and ignoring this obligation will only add to our troubles down the road. It’s time to make those difficult decisions now and solve the problems in front of us.”

The General Assembly will be tasked with passing a budget agreement ahead of the fiscal year, which begins on July 1st and runs through June 30th, 2020.