Illinois took another blow to efforts to get its fiscal house in order.
All three major credit rating agencies have labeled Illinois' financial outlook as "negative." The latest comes from Fitch Ratings...which blames lawmakers for failing to pass a pension overhaul before adjourning last Tuesday. Click here to read more from the Illinois Watchdog.
Fitch also mentioned Illinois TM nearly $9 billion in unpaid bills and a dependence on late payments to manage the budget.
Lower ratings could force Illinois to pay higher interest when it borrows money for infrastructure projects.
House Republican leaders called the downgrade "embarrassing" for the state.
Despite Governor Pat Quinn's urging, lawmakers have been unable to agree on a way to cut the state's pension costs.
A new House and Senate took their oaths of office on Wednesday, after a lame-duck General Assembly failed to even vote on a proposal Tuesday. After being sworn in, the new session of lawmakers have left Springfield. They will go back to work in February.
As they continue to put off the issue, Illinois taxpayers go further into debt.
Hold onto your wallets - right now the Illinois pension deficit stands at $96 billion dollars-- the worst in the nation.
If that weren't bad enough, the deficit's grows by $17 million a *day* due to interest.
Lawmakers go back to Springfield in February.
By the time lawmakers get back into the capitol building in Springfield, the pension deficit will have grown by about $289 million.
Lawmakers are still at a loss on how to fully fund the state's pension plan. One plan on the table tweaked cost-of living-adjustments for public retirees, required more money from local schools and governments for their public workers TM retirement benefits. It would have tried to fully fund Illinois TM five pension systems in 30 years.
According to WBEZ, in December Dick Ingram, who is in charge of the Teachers Retirement System, told an audience of teachers, "Be afraid. Be very afraid."
The Teachers Retirement System is the largest underfunded pension in Illinois with $52 billion in unfunded liabilities.
Ingram says no teacher in Illinois should feel confident that their pension will be there when they retire. Click here to read more.
It seems no one is a winner in this pension debacle. Teachers and other state employees look at the possibility of a completely different future - years without the retirement dollars they were promised. Meanwhile interest payments are already racking up on future taxpayers that won't be paid until long after we're gone.
What do you think about pension reform? Are you mad, or hopeful? Comment below.