Budget blues continue in Springfield
It wouldn't be a normal day in Illinois without another dose of bad news out of Springfield.
Here's the latest proof that state government in Illinois will remain in an economic funk for the foreseeable future.
Managers of the state's five public pension systems informed legislators last week that they'll need another $500 million-plus next year to meet funding requirements.
Last year, the state injected $4.9 billion (yes, that's "billion" with a "b") in the public pensions. A few months ago, pension managers said they would need $5.3 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Now after reconsidering their financial needs, they've upped the ante to $5.8 billion.
Gov. Quinn's budget office has estimated that state revenue will grow by $1.3 billion in the new budget year. But anticipated increases in pension and Medicaid spending will consume almost all of that growth, leaving little to nothing for programs like education, corrections and social services.
The increase in pension payments was caused by a variety of factors, including increased life expectancy, a decline in contributions by state employees and a downward revision in earnings from pension-system investments.
But the reasons are almost immaterial. What matters is that costs are eating up the state budget and hungering for more.
The state has many obligations that it's already shirking. Circumstances will never get better and will almost certainly get even worse if state government is forced to spend more and more of what it takes in on welfare programs and pensions.