Only 40% of assets needed for pensions in Illinois
Illinois' five pension systems had 40 percent of the assets needed to cover obligations in fiscal 2011, the lowest ratio among states, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That has led to repeated credit downgrades for the lowest-rated U.S. state.
Resolving Illinois's pension shortfall has proven a challenge. Lawmakers have failed at least five times in the last 15 months to restructure the plans covering 761,000 employees and retirees. Despite the backing of legislative leaders, approval by a majority of both houses is not assured.
"The Senate president will be debriefing members of his caucus in the coming days in hopes of garnering support," said Ronald Holmes, a spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton.
Illinois has the lowest credit standing among U.S. states from the three biggest rating companies, at four steps above junk. The firms have repeatedly cited the pension shortfall as the basis for the reductions.