Munger: Illinois can't afford November pension payment

  • Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger of Lincolnshire

    Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger of Lincolnshire Associated Press File Photo

 
 
Updated 10/14/2015 6:44 PM

Illinois' comptroller says the state doesn't have enough money in its checkbook to make its $560 million November payment to state pension systems.

Retirees will continue to receive their checks as scheduled, said Republican Leslie Munger of Lincolnshire on Wednesday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Munger said Illinois' budget stalemate forced her hand. Now in its fourth month without a constitutionally mandated budget, the state is required by court orders and consent decrees to pay out a portion of its bills, which is causing a growing cash shortage, she said.

Pushing off the pension payment -- a practice used by past administrations and often blamed for the state's pension crisis -- was "the least of a number of bad options," she said.

"It saddens me that we've reached this point," Munger said, alluding to the budget impasse between Bruce Rauner and the Democratic leaders of the legislature.

Munger also said the backlog of unpaid bills, now at $7 billion, is expected to swell to $8.5 billion by year's end if the situation continues. Meanwhile, services for the state's most vulnerable residents have been put on indefinite hold. "I'm calling on everyone to get together and get a budget done," she said, noting that she's offered to "bring sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies" to entice the leaders of Illinois' divided government to sit down in the same room and hash things out.

Meanwhile, she said, "I'll continue to use the megaphone of my office."

Lawmakers return to Springfield next week.

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