Illinois lawmakers peg the state's public pension debt at about $115 billion, but a new report from with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) said the price tag is more like $362 billion.
"The thing that our report shows, that the official state report won't show, is that (pension) liabilities are much, much larger," ALEC's Johnathan Williams said. "We use generally accepted accounting principles."
The ALEC report is based on a 2.3 percent rate of return for pensions. Managers for Illinois' teacher pension system use a 7 percent rate, down from 8 percent a year ago.
Williams said ALEC also calculated pension risks and the lack of state funding, and found that state pension managers don't look at the full picture.
"Basically, it's Enron-style accounting for government," Williams said. "If you're an executive in the private sector, and you used the kind of accounting used by state and local governments, you'd be in jail today."
Williams said the $362 billion is the second worst pension debt in the country. Only California is worse.
The report said Illinois is third worst in funding ratio. The state has just under 29 percent of the money it needs to pay for pensions.
Illinois is also third worst in per-capita debt. Illinoisans each would need to pay $28,000 to cover the state’s pension debt. That's enough to buy a brand new Chevy Malibu for every man, woman and child in Illinois.