Posts are ordered chronologically within a theme. For items that cross a theme, I will pick only one category to put them in.
If you are looking for Chicago-related posts, check this: Compilation of Chicago posts.
11 March 2014: Public Pensions Watch: Sometimes Politicians Do the Right Thing
Some Illinois politicians get rid of pensions for themselves.
21 April 2014: Public Pensions Watch: Illinois Reform Pushing Out Senior Professors
Due to supposedly-mistaken language in a bill, a bunch of profs had to retire to lock in certain retirement benefits. I question how “accidental” the language was.
6 July 2014: Public Pensions Watch: Illinois Law v. Reality
Relating to the Illinois Supreme Court case saying that Illinois state retiree health care could not be reduced. I don’t even know what that means. I make a prediction:
So if the state cannot cut a benefit that can fluctuate wildly from year-to-year, if the state cannot change a percentage of coverage, even if they’re paying more every year in absolute or inflation-adjusted dollars, then there’s no way the pensions, which are less variable, will be allowed to be cut.
I was right.
23 August 2014: Public Pensions Watch: Rhetorical Failure in Illinois
If you think it’s a selling point to say “Hey, if they cut the pensions of public employees, they may cut Social Security next!!!!”, don’t blame me when the “unwashed masses” yell back “THEY’RE ALREADY CUTTING SOCIAL SECURITY AND WILL CUT MORE”
24 August 2014: Public Pensions Watch: Miscellany (but mostly Illinois)
Miscellaneous comments relating to Illinois pensions, plus an item on questionable valuation assumptions in Illinois.
26 September 2014: UPDATES and REPOST: Public Pension Watch: How Important is the Mortality Assumption? And Other Assumptions?
I look into some valuation assumptions used in small plans in Illinois. I actually plan on revisiting this in 2017 due to some new relevance.
22 October 2014: Illinois Governor’s Race: The Looming Pensions Problem
The state pension problem is more consequential than the rinky-dink crap political reporters are digging up on Rauner & Quinn.
23 November 2014: Public Pension Watch: Illinois Reform Goes Down (as Expected)
An Illinois circuit court strikes down state pension reform. Onto the Illinois Supreme Court!
12 December 2014: Public Pensions Visualization: How Bad Is It?
I try out my first visualization of the causes of the Illinois state pension underfunding. Primarily undercontributions and investment experience.
27 January 2015: Public Pensions Watch: Illinois Pension Reform Lawsuits
I look at some of the amicus (and regular) briefs filed in the Illinois Supreme Court case over state pension reform.
9 May 2015: Illinois Pensions: A Court Ruling and on How Promises Fail
The Illinois Supreme Court rules Illinois pension reform unconstitutional. I mention that the fix is to amend the state constitution.
11 May 2015: Illinois Pensions: How Did We Get Here? The 1970 Constitution
Illinois got a new state constitution in 1970, including Section 5, which “protected” pensions. As explained at the time: “This section is new and self-explanatory.” Eventually, it will be explained as to how this didn’t protect pensions at all.
15 May 2015: Pension Quick Takes: Illinois Reactions, Quick Fixes to Illinois Pensions Disaster, and Coming Attractions
Various reactions to the Illinois Supreme Court ruling, as well as a few heat maps of Illinois pension benefits. Four proposed fixed to the Illinois pension trouble; none of them actually fix the problem.
19 May 2015: Illinois Pensions: How Did We Get Here? Development of Unfunded Liability
Primary cause: undercontributions. Deliberate undercontributions to the pension funds for decades.
26 May 2015: Illinois Pensions: State Employees Retirement System (SERS) number-crunching
I look at items such as investment performance, contribution history, and funded ratios for the Illinois State Employees Retirement System. This is one of the worst-funded pensions in Illinois. That takes some doing.
27 May 2015: Illinois Pensions and Spiking: Not All Penalties are Deterrents
Illinois teachers are getting their pensions spiked – i.e., a boost in their benefit levels at the very end of their careers. Local school systems pay a penalty for this spiking, but it doesn’t deter them as the fines are much less than the pension boost is worth. Also, it’s Other People’s Money.
28 May 2015: Illinois Pensions: General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) number-crunching
GARS is only 14% funded. But don’t worry, this plan covers only state legislators. They’ll be sure to get theirs. Even if it’s grossly underfunded. It’s less than 0.5% of the state’s pension unfunded liability.
1 June 2015: Illinois Pensions: Judges Retirement System (JRS) number-crunching
JRS is also a puny part of the Illinois state pension burden. The modal benefit is about $170K/year for 20 years of service. I note that there’s no way judges can be disinterested parties in ruling on the unconstitutionality of reforming government pensions.
3 June 2015: Illinois Pensions: State Universities Retirement System (SURS) number-crunching
Most SURS pensions are really small amounts, for very few years of service. SURS is 40% funded, and over half of the unfunded liability was due to (deliberate) undercontributions.
3 June 2015: Illinois Pensions: Teachers Retirement System (TRS) number-crunching
This is the largest of the Illinois pension funds, a modal benefit of about $85K/year for 35 years of service. Unlike SURS, most TRS pensions are paid to full career people. It’s 40% funded, like SURS, and due to its size, it is over half of the state’s unfunded liabililty.
10 August 2015: Chicago and Illinois Pensions Watch: History and Who is Serious
A look at the “Edgar Ramp”, behind a lot of the deliberate underfunding of Illinois pensions. The underfunding wasn’t the choice of one politician, though – Illinois politicians decided to underfund the pensions for decades. All are complicit.
21 December 2015: Pensions Watch: Show Us The Money
Illinois’s university pension plan is in danger of running out of cash.
24 February 2016: Illinois Pension Watch: This is Why Your Pensions are in Trouble
Because of undercontributions. I look at the one Illinois fund (IMRF) with requires the “required” contributions to be paid. They’ve got an 88% funded ratio.
8 March 2016: No, Valerie Jarrett is not Why Illinois Pensions Are in Trouble
I look at a claim that Valerie Jarrett really negatively hit Illinois pensions. Yes, she had an effect, but she and her type of part-time political pay-off, is an extremely small part of Illinois pensions. Most of the liability is to full career employees, especially teachers.
12 April 2016: Public Pensions and Finance Round-up: Tuesday April 12 – Money is Mobile and Not Coming in Fast Enough
Illinois pensions: undercontributions for rich benefits and new teachers are getting screwed. Also, an idea to buy out pensioners… which isn’t going to happen.
30 August 2016: Much Ado About Discount Rates: Illinois and the Actuaries
The valuation rate for the Illinois teachers pension is being reduced from 7.5% to 7%. There is politicking over this.
10 September 2015: Quick Takes: Who’s Up For Some Taxes? Lotteries, Teachers, and Property Owners, Watch Out!
Illinois lottery winners are not being paid due to budget stand-off, and they sued.
15 September 2015: Public Pension and Finance Quick Takes: Will You Pay My Lottery Bills? Will You Pay my Healthcare Bills?
During the budget standoff in Illinois, lottery winners and all sorts of vendors were not being paid.
1 October 2015: Illinois Finance: The Ongoing Non-Crisis and the Oncoming Real Crisis
Fake crisis with state budget stand-off; real crisis of underfunded pensions.
15 October 2015: Illinois Lottery Update, the Pensions, and General Blogging Announcement
Political theater continues through Illinois budget standoff.
25 October 2015: Illinois Lottery: You Can’t Fool People Forever
As Illinois still doesn’t pay lottery winners, they lose business to surrounding states.
4 February 2016: On the Illinois Bailout Idea and Other Shenanigans
An idea for the federal government to bail out Illinois. And stupid Chicago shenanigans.
6 June 2016: On Public Finance “Solutions”: Illinois Edition – Tax Everything!
Illinois is desperate for revenue. So they look at what they haven’t taxed yet.
12 June 2016: March of the Deadbeats: Illinois, New Jersey, Kentucky, Puerto Rico and Central States
Illinois downgraded yet again.
14 March 2017: Public Finance: Illinois wants to tax ALL THE THINGS!
I look at proposals to add more, discrete services to the sales tax rolls. As opposed to, I dunno, just having a flat transaction tax.
18 April 2017: Illinois Finances: Budget?! We Don’t Need No Stinkin Budget!
Illinois has been without an official budget for 21 months. Let’s see what the comptroller has been doing with $13.5 billion in unpaid bills, what is closing because they’re not getting paid by the state, and comparisons of proposals.
18 March 2014: Republicans Running in Blue States: Illinois Edition
I ask why Rauner is running for governor of Illinois, specifically. The Republican primary ran that day, and I wondered if the Democrat bitchery over Rauner was intended to help him win his primary.
19 March 2014: Public Pensions Watch: Rauner for Republicans in Illinois
Rauner did indeed win the primary. And I point out that unions ran anti-Rauner ads because of his stance for pension reform. Hmmm.
17 June 2014: Illinois Politics: Spread the Wealth of Corrupt Connections!
Why do only some corrupt Illinois politicians get away with it? Spread the corruption privilege!
19 October 2014: Illinois Election Shenanigans: WTF is going on?
Something about a newspaper making an unexpected endorsement of Rauner for governor.
20 October 2014: More on the Illinois Governor’s Race
Some brou-ha-ha over newspaper endorsements of Rauner, who was part owner of one of the papers. All parties involved forget nobody gives a shit about newspaper endorsements.
24 October 2014: Illinois Election Roundup, 24 Oct 2014
I have fun looking at Illinois election shenanigans.
27 October 2014: Illinois Election Watch: What’s up with Rauner?
Rauner seems to have his own sketchy connections re: Illinois/Chicago politics.
3 November 2014: Public Pensions and Election Day: Quick Roundup
Ted Siedle predicts an audit/questioning of Rauner’s ties to the Illinois state pension fund if he wins the election. [As of 2017, nothing has happened with this.]
6 November 2014: Illinois Election Wrap-up: Congrats, Rauner, I guess
Republican Rauner wins the Illinois governor’s election by a razor-thin margin. I wish him luck.
6 January 2016: Governor Bruce Rauner on Recent Illinois Issues
I provide a transcript from a Rauner press conference. All sorts of Illinois and Chicago political comments.
Calpers Myths vs. Facts: Page is Gone But The Internet is Forever
Nevada Pensions: Liability Trends
On Dreams of Bankruptcy