Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn this week launched an Internet-based grassroots campaign aimed at raising public support for pension reforms.
The campaign, dubbed “Thanks in Advance,” will use Twitter, Facebook, email and a website, www.thisismyillinois.com, to offer information on the state’s pension system and its funding crisis.
Quinn is pressing for reforms to ensure the state can adequately fund education, public safety, job creation and health care. “If the General Assembly passes comprehensive reform, we will ease the squeeze on essential services, restore fiscal stability to our state and protect the future of the next generation,” he said.
Bids for reform that include cutting benefits have failed due to political divisions, but state lawmakers are expected to take up the issue early in January.
The health of Illinois’ pension system continued its downward spiral in the last fiscal year when unfunded liabilities rose by more than $11 billion to $94.6 billion and the funded ratio deteriorated to 40.4% from 43.4%. The funds have requested a total payment of $6.8 billion in the fiscal 2014 budget, up from $5.9 billion in the current 2013 budget.