State Rep. Mark Batinick a consistent advocate of tackling Illinois’ pension debt problem, praised the success of a buyout program available for retirees.
Batinick, R-Plainfield, introduced the program in an effort to address the pension issue four years ago and it was signed into law last year, according to a news release.
Under the program, state retirees can be bought out of the pension system at a discounted rate. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said more than 20% of retirees who were offered this option have utilized it. Batinick said paying the discounted rate has been important to reduce the state’s pension liability and save taxpayer money. This year, the General Assembly voted to extend the program because of its success.
“The increased costs at local levels for pensions is dramatically increasing property taxes,” Batinick said in a statement. “If you’re going to stop bleeding people out of the state, you need to attack from all angles. Pensions and property taxes are the two things we need to address in our state, and we need to address them in every way we can.”
Batinick has repeatedly voiced his concern about Illinois’ $135 billion unfunded pension liability, along with high property taxes, as the biggest issue facing the state. He’s argued that because of past mismanagement and underfunding throughout the years, the state’s annual pension payment will rise from about $6 billion a few years ago to about $20 billion by 2045.
Batinick has also argued that increasing upfront payments to the pension system, as suggested by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, could level payments over the next 25 years. While the CTBA plan calls for borrowing money to pay for pensions, Batinick wants to find that money, about $2.4 billion a year, elsewhere.
Batinick also has said that savings on pension payments could go toward property tax relief. He has argued that high property taxes are causing the state to lose both population and jobs.