Report: Illinois overspending taxpayer money year after year

Link: https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois/report-illinois-overspending-taxpayer-money-year-after-year/article_7bc5b8ba-8c84-11ed-a77d-a77c6a37c073.html?utm_source=thecentersquare.com&utm_campaign=%2Fnewsletters%2Flists%2Ft2%2Fillinois%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=headline

Excerpt:

An analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts shows that Illinois is one of only two states in the country with total tax revenue shortfalls exceeding 5% of total expenses, and the only ones with annual deficits in each of the past 15 years. The other state is New Jersey.

Pew state fiscal health manager Joanna Biernacka-Lievestro said Illinois is in select company.

“Nine states failed to collect enough revenue to cover their long-term expenses over the 15 years ending in fiscal 2020,” Biernacka-Lievestro said. “Secondly, Illinois was one of two states that struggled the most.” 

After New Jersey, Illinois had the largest deficit with aggregate revenue able to cover only 93.9% of aggregate expenses. In comparison, Indiana and Iowa were both close to 104%. Alaska collected 103.5%, yielding the largest surplus.

Author(s): Kevin Bessler

Publication Date: 4 Jan 2023

Publication Site: The Center Square

Federal Reserve hikes rates again

Link: https://www.thecentersquare.com/national/federal-reserve-hikes-rates-again/article_da8ec844-7be2-11ed-9977-17d7d24d73fb.html

Excerpt:

The U.S. Federal Reserve announced a new rate increase of half a percentage point Wednesday in its ongoing effort to curb inflation.

The Fed raised the rate by 50 basis points, as expected, the seventh rate hike this year. This increase is smaller than the four previous 75 basis point increases but is still a notable increase, putting the range at 4.25%-4.5%.

“Recent indicators point to modest growth in spending and production. Job gains have been robust in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low,” the Fed said. “Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher food and energy prices, and broader price pressures.”

The Fed blamed the Russian war in Ukraine for the price hikes. That war delayed the supply chain and increased costs, but the price increases began long before that war, due in part to trillions of dollars in federal debt spending since the pandemic began.

Author(s): Casey Harper

Publication Date: 14 Dec 2022

Publication Site: The Center Square

Candidates discuss Illinois’ unfunded pension debt

Link: https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois/gubernatorial-candidates-discuss-plans-to-shore-up-illinois-unfunded-pension-debt/article_d4ee1dcc-5acc-11ed-ba1f-5f5508ee672f.html

Excerpt:

Candidates for Illinois governor are taking different approaches on how they’d tackle the state’s unfunded pension liabilities.

Illinois has among the most unfunded public sector employee pension liability. State numbers indicate around $151 billion unfunded, but some place like the American Legislative Exchange Council place the debt at $533 billion.

State Sen. Darren Bailey, who’s running against incumbent Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, said he’ll use reduced state spending to pay down pensions.

“We’ll find the fat in the budget and we’ll begin to apply that to get this pension situation under control, but first and foremost, I will be sitting at the table with pensioners,” Bailey, R-Xenia, told The Center Square. “I fear that the pension debt may be that large looming problem that will sneak up on Illinois if we continue to ignore it as J.B. Pritzker has.”

Pritzker touts on his campaign website “fully funding pension contributions” as a way to reduce state pension liabilities, “going above and beyond with payments and expanding the employee pension buyout program.”

Pritzker’s campaign did not return requests for an interview.

Author(s): Greg Bishop

Publication Date: 2 Nov 2022

Publication Site: The Center Square

Pension spiking costs continue to hit Illinois taxpayers

Link: https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois/pension-spiking-costs-continue-to-hit-illinois-taxpayers/article_b899de84-a53e-11ec-b683-6bf4098dc466.html

Excerpt:

School districts sent $8,839,754.35 to the Teachers’ Retirement System of the state of Illinois to cover the cost of excess salary and excess sick time payments given to educators at the end of their careers in years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, according to records obtained by The Center Square. That’s on top of the more than $50 million in penalties districts have paid to TRS since the 2005 law passed, including $23.8 million since fiscal 2014. But districts only paid a fraction of what they actually owed due to exemptions built into the 2005 law.

“In the first 10 years of the program, 2005 to 2015, the excess salary contributions levied against school districts totaled $149.5 million, or an average of $14.95 million per year,” said Dave Urbanek, director of communications for the Teachers’ Retirement System of the state of Illinois. “However, because of exemptions to the 6% threshold built into the law at that time, districts paid only $39 million during that decade, or an average of $3.9 million per year.”

State Sen. Craig Wilcox, R-McHenry, said some local taxpayers probably aren’t aware of how school districts are spending tax dollars. The majority of school district funding in Illinois comes from local property taxes. Most national analyses show Illinois residents pay, on average, the second highest property taxes in the U.S., behind only New Jersey.

Author(s): Brett Rowland

Publication Date: 18 Mar 2022

Publication Site: The Center Square

New York loses $19.5 billion in population exodus, IRS confirms

Link: https://www.thecentersquare.com/new_york/new-york-loses-19-5-billion-in-population-exodus-irs-confirms/article_c805dfd6-dde6-11ec-8d0e-4f667cd41881.html

Excerpt:

The Internal Revenue Service this week released more troubling data for New York, with the federal agency showing more high-earning taxpayers leaving the state.

Tracking returns filed in 2019 and 2020 showed that 479,826 people left New York for another state or country in those years. Over the same timeframe, just 231,439 people moved to the state. That means the state suffered a net loss of 248,387 residents.

And, of course, those people took their money with them. The IRS figures show the moves generated an economic exodus of more than $19.5 billion.

New Jersey and Florida were the biggest beneficiaries. More than 84,500 people moved from New York to New Jersey and took $5.3 billion. By contrast, only 37,127 New Jersey residents moved to New York and brought $2.2 billion in income.

….

Wirepoints, in its analysis, noted New York suffered the worst net loss of income of any state, with the $19.5 billion representing a 2.5 percent decline in adjusted gross income. 

Author(s): Steve Bittenbender

Publication Date: 28 May 2022

Publication Site: The Center Square

Census: Illinois cities combined lose 104,000 people in 2021

Link: https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois/census-illinois-cities-combined-lose-104-000-people-in-2021/article_5a261c26-dc63-11ec-8881-f30cf9c72ea4.html?utm_source=Master+List&utm_campaign=e66598c836-MICHIGAN_B2C_NEWSLETTER&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d03ba9ddf1-e66598c836-74692253

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Cities and towns in Illinois lost more than 104,000 people in the 12 months up to July 1, 2021, according to new U.S. Census data released Thursday. Nearly half of Illinois’ losses were from Chicago.

The report for the entire country shows populations continue to shift to towns in the South and West regions of the United States.

“Arizona, Texas, Florida and Idaho all had several places among the 15 fastest-growing cities or towns,” the report said.

Of the 15 largest cities, New York lost nearly 305,500 people. Chicago lost 45,175 people, which was larger than Los Angeles’ loss of 40,537 people. Chicago is the third most populous city behind New York and L.A..

Author(s): Greg Bishop

Publication Date: 26 May 2022

Publication Site: The Center Square

Illinois data: Deaths of people 18 to 49 soar in 2020-21; most of excess not COVID-related

Link: https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois/illinois-data-deaths-of-people-18-to-49-soar-in-2020-21-most-of-excess/article_091b8228-807c-11ec-b235-239935b60883.html#new_tab

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Nearly 27% more people ages 18 to 49 in Illinois have died in each of the past two years than in each of the three years prior. COVID-related deaths in that age group account for just a minority of the excess deaths.

Data the Illinois Department of Public Health provided The Center Square show 29% more fatalities in 2021 and 24% more in 2020 when compared to the average for the three years prior for those ages 18 to 49. Combined for 2020 and 2021, the total number of deaths among that demographic is 21,511.

…..

COVID-related deaths in the past two years totals about 1,700 for that age group. Subtracting the 1,700 COVID deaths from the excess death total of 4,467 leaves 2,767 excess deaths for 2020 and 2021 that are not categorized by IDPH, meaning the causes of death for the excess 2,767 are not described.

…..

While COVID-19 is listed as the third leading cause of death in Illinois for all ages in 2020, the leading cause of deaths IDPH lists for those 18 to 44 is accidents, assaults, suicides and heart disease. COVID-19 is not listed as a leading cause of death at all for ages 18 to 24. COVID-19 does show up at No. 6 for those 25 to 44, or 370 out of a total of 6,439.

Author(s): Greg Bishop

Publication Date: 28 Jan 2022

Publication Site: The Center Square

California public employees’ pension bill to go up after CalPERS lowers market expectations

Link:https://www.thecentersquare.com/california/california-public-employees-pension-bill-to-go-up-after-calpers-lowers-market-expectations/article_54d02942-47e4-11ec-940a-e3e851214b73.html

Excerpt:

The CalPERS board voted Monday to select a portfolio with a return of 6.8% and an expected volatility rate of 12.1%. This expected rate of return is two-tenths of a percentage point lower than last year’s target of 7%. The vote concluded a review of the pension fund’s assets, which occurs once every four years. 

This expected reduction in the rate of return means that some employees will have to contribute more to their pension funds because the fund expects to earn less from its investment portfolio.

For employees hired after the implementation of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) in January 2013, CalPERS estimates they will contribute an average of 1.2% to 1.5% more toward their pensions. These changes will go into effect for school employees, excluding teachers, in July 2022 and will be enacted for most other local government employees in July 2023.

Author(s): Madison Hirneisen

Publication Date: 17 Nov 2021

Publication Site: The Center Square

Tennessee pension system boasts historic investment earnings

Link: https://www.timesnews.net/news/state/tennessee-pension-system-boasts-historic-investment-earnings/article_458bf20e-b7a6-5007-a1ff-246bf738f846.html

Excerpt:

TCRS made $13.6 billion in fiscal 2021; a record high in earnings that put the balance of TCRS’ investments at $65.3 billion. In fiscal 2020, the system had a 4.94% return and finished the fiscal year with a balance of $53.4 billion. The Tennessee Department of Treasury said that return outearned its peers by four times the median 1.2% return during the fiscal year.

“When retirement plans around the nation are under scrutiny for their performance, TCRS is thriving,” Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard said. “Our Governor and General Assembly ensure the plan is fully funded every year. The Tennessee Department of Treasury strives to be good stewards of the state’s financial resources. This $13.6 billion in investment income is evidence of our commitment to both active and retired members of the TCRS pension plan.”

Author(s): Jon Styf, The Center Square

Publication Date: 7 October 2021

Publication Site: Times News

Report finds Illinois holds 30% of pension obligation bond debt in nation

Link: https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois/report-finds-illinois-holds-30-of-pension-obligation-bond-debt-in-nation/article_0ab6d148-1716-11ec-b36b-1b03ea725eeb.html#new_tab

Excerpt:

A new report shows Illinois holds 30% of the nation’s pension obligation bond debt.

A pension obligation bond is a form of debt that some states use to make payments to state-run pension funds. A pension obligation bond gets paid out by a third party and the state then pays back that loan with interest. Financial experts often advise against the use of pension obligation bonds, said Adam Schuster of the Illinois Policy Institute.

….

The interest on the pension obligation bonds continues to climb and is leaving Illinois in a worse spot than it was previously in. The state has borrowed a total of $17.2 billion since 2003, but repayment cost is now $31 billion. Pension obligation bonds can save taxpayers money if the interest rates on the bonds is lower than the rate of return on the pension investments. If the rate of return drops below the interest rate on the bonds, then taxpayers are on the hook for the difference. This is a strategy that Schuster said is the same as gambling with the state’s money.

Author(s): Andrew Hensel

Publication Date: 16 Sept 2021

Publication Site: The Center Square

Audit finds California regularly sends pension checks to dead people

Link: https://www.thepress.net/news/state/audit-finds-california-regularly-sends-pension-checks-to-dead-people/article_df529bf9-e765-504f-bcd3-f40a217c1f98.html

Excerpt:

An audit of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, America’s largest public pension fund, found regular payments to pensioners well after they died, so much so it’s challenging to get the money back. 

Around 1,800 CalPERS pensioners die every month, according to a June memorandum from the fund’s Office of Audit Services that recently become public. CalPERS had more than $41 million in wrongful pension payments outstanding as of July 31, 2020, the audit said. It estimated CalPERS made those payments to about 22,000 dead pensioners.

The CalPERS Death and Survivor Benefits Division (DSBD) is responsible for verifying a pensioner has passed away and stopping payment. The audit found this process is done by a part-time employee that’s not given regular supervisory oversight.

…..

Of the sample of 30 cases audited, the report found DSBD learned pensioners had died an average of 47 months after the date of their deaths, resulting in $2.34 million in wrongful payments that had yet to be recovered. 

Author(s): Cole Lauterbach, The Center Square

Publication Date: 20 Sept 2021

Publication Site: The Press

Report: Teacher pension error traced to single miscalculation in April 2015

Link: https://www.thecentersquare.com/pennsylvania/report-teacher-pension-error-traced-to-single-miscalculation-in-april-2015/article_34d84a56-c306-11eb-a252-4b78895ea004.html

Excerpt:

The calculation error that upended the state’s largest pension fund has been traced back to a single month in 2015, according to an investigation from Spotlight PA.

The discovery came to light in a trove of documents obtained by reporters that found a tiny discrepancy that boosted the $64 billion Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) by a third of a percentage point in April of that year.

The consultant firm hired to review PSERS’ investment returns between 2011 and 2020, ACA Compliance Group, performed limited checks that skipped over the month in question, according to the report. The company that crunched the actual numbers, Aon, blamed the discrepancy on a data entry error.

No matter the fault, the miscalculation unraveled PSERS’ rate of return, dropping it from just above the mandated 6.36% threshold to prevent a contribution increase down to 6.34%. Now, about 100,000 workers who joined the system in 2011 or later will pay more beginning on July 1.

Author(s): Christen Smith

Publication Date: 1 June 2021

Publication Site: The Center Square