As Illinois’ pension debt crisis continues to swallow up  the state budget and make headlines, Illinoisans have been left wondering, “How did it come to this?”

In 2000, Illinois’ pension systems stood as healthy as they’d been in 30 years, with a funded ratio of 75 percent and less than $16 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

Thirteen years later, pension debt has increased six-fold and Illinois’ retirement systems are in a state of disrepair unmatched elsewhere.

We explain step-by-step how two recessions and a decade of systemic underfunding and over-borrowing by state government conspired to put Illinois in the path of a perfect storm of financial disaster. Check out our timeline and then join us in demanding a solution.



Passing a pension reform bill in December 2013 could help the pension situation greatly if the bill survives a court challenge.

The Civic Federation noted in this 2014 report that pension reform alone will not repair the state’s broken finances.

Reboot’s Madeleine Doubek would like state government to look back to the days when people waited until they had the money to buy things they wanted.

Taxpayers in Illinois want it all: reduced taxes, enhanced services and budget cuts. That’s not a formula that works.

Concerned about your state income tax? Use our Sound Off tool to tell your representatives in Springfield what you think. It’s easy and effective. Try it.