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CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois lawmakers should heed the warnings of the Civic Federation, which says the state’s pension debt will grow by leaps and bounds if immediate steps aren’t taken.
As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, the Civic Federation says the state’s more than $9 billion in unpaid pension obligations to grow to $35 billion in unpaid bills 2017 if the governor and lawmakers don’t reverse troubling trends.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
Mayor Emanuel says the City of Chicago is dealing with a similar reality already.
“I think the budget vote was two minutes old – I said, ‘We took one giant step, but we have to now deal with our pensions,’ because it’s not fair to the workers who are paying into a system that’s not going to be honest to them because it can’t pay what it owes, and I’m surely not going to let taxpayers foot a bill that could call – when you do all the pensions in, if we make no changes, requires property taxes to go up 100-plus percent,” Emanuel said.
Pensions are not the only problem contributing to the state’s ever-ballooning deficit, the Civic Federation said. President Laurence Msall said Monday that Medicaid growth is “growing at such a rate that it is going to swamp as well as the pension crisis in the State of Illinois.”
Unpaid Medicaid bills could increase to $23 billion by 2017, the Civic Federation said.
State Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Kelly Kraft couldn’t say what specific changes the Office of Management and Budget is seeking to the Medicaid system, but says Quinn last year proposed a 6 percent cut in the Medicaid reimbursement rate.