The bond rating firms are concerned not only about the state’s financial condition but also about the political process, according to the state treasurer.
Treasurer Dan Rutherford says it’s damaging when deadline after deadline is set and then not met when it comes to restructuring the state’s pension system. “When you set out expectations, and you set a date certain that this is it, it must be done, when there’s a failure to meet them, it shows the fact that Illinois government and leadership does not have its act together,” he said.
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Rutherford made reference to several deadlines for pension reform established by the governor – the end of the 2012 legislative session, a special session last summer, last year’s veto session and this year’s lame duck session – none of which were met, and some of which were followed by bond rating downgrades or warnings of thin ice.
Rutherford says the state will not default on bonds, because debt service is at the head of the line vs. other state expenses, but he says he believes there are individual lawmakers who do not understand the seriousness of the $95 billion unfunded pension liability.