Chicago’s Public Pension Plan Takes up a Massive Chunk of the City’s Finances

It’s no secret that large cities in the US hold a considerable amount of debt, but a recent report from Equable Institute found Chicago may just be in the lead by a longshot.

As it turns out, the city’s core public pensions, which apply to pension funds for municipal workers, police officers, firefighters, and many more, created almost $48 billion in debt, which surpasses that of 44 states in the US.

Public pension plan in Chicago results in the city owing more than 44 states in the country

As impressive as these numbers are, they’re incredibly damaging to the city’s economy. If you take into account that these funds are paid for by Chicagoans through taxes, you can understand why the city is struggling to find some financial balance.

The majority of the money is obtained through property tax. The tax levy has nearly doubled in the past ten years, with no signs of stopping any time soon, especially considering the amount of debt that’s been taken on.

If this isn’t a sign we’re due for pension reform, then we don’t know what is. Without some significant change, this will only continue to eat away at Americans’ hard-earned money that is used to cover these debts.

Other pension systems in the Chicago area aren’t much better off either. Between the Water Reclamation District, Transit Authority retirement system, and the Cook County Employee’s Annuity benefits, they’ve got around $14.8 billion in debt combined.

Chicagoans deserve better

This only ends up putting additional strain on the city’s taxpayers, who are at their wits’ end with all the tax hikes they have to keep up with every year.

Some other areas of the city weren’t included in the report, as they pale in comparison to the main culprits. One of those is the Park District retirement system, which owes somewhere around $824 million in pension debt, at least according to last year’s financial report.

If that wasn’t enough, all of the city’s five major systems have remained among some of the most underfunded in the entire nation. Data from Equable has shown a single local pension system in the country has a worse funding ratio.

The American people deserve better; someone needs to step up and bring about some much-needed change.