Chicago may be the extreme …

but when it comes to irresponsible pension promises, Chicago is not alone. Many states are underfunding the promises made by their politicians. Most often it is Democratic politicians pandering to public employee unions who are happy to take all they can get without regard to affordability.

Politicians don’t want the funding costs converted to tax increases, so they either don’t fund to the required level or they seek other schemes for some funding. In New Jersey they made the lottery an asset of the teachers pension fund thus diverting it from its intended purpose. In Chicago it’s a new casino – an indirect tax on those who can’t afford it.

Chicago gov­ern­ment-worker pen­sions are mas­sively un­der-funded. So in typ­i­cal Chicago-land fash­ion, the City Coun­cil is bet­ting on casino rev­enue to plug the pen­sion gap. Do tax­payers and work­ers feel lucky?

The po­lice and fire-fighter pen­sion funds are only about 20% funded—among the worst in the coun­try—even though 80% of city prop­erty tax dol­lars go to­ward pensions. The city’s an­nual pen­sion pay­ments have risen by $1 bil­lion over the past three years. Per­haps the city would have less crime if it hired more po­lice of­fi­cers and paid less for pen­sions.

Blame De­mo­c­ra­tic politi­cians who over the decades have re­warded their la­bor al­lies with gen­er­ous re­tire­ment benefits but haven’t socked away money to pay for them. Instead, Chica­go’s po­lit­i­cal machine has frit­tered away tax­payer dol­lars buy­ing votes. Illi­nois Gov. J.B. Pritzker last year signed a bill boost­ing Chicago fire­fighter pen­sions,

Wall Street Journal

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