Bailey plans to confront pension crisis head on
State Rep.-elect Darren Bailey of Xenia insists he’s willing to do what he says no other lawmaker in Springfield seems willing to.
“We all know that something has to change, but no one wants to be the first to start talking about it,” Bailey, a Republican, told the SE Illinois News. “There’s no way this pension system that we have in place is sustainable and I’m looking forward to having the chance to start a conversation with other lawmakers, union leaders and members about what we can do to save Illinois.”
A new Illinois Auditor General State Actuary Report suggests that job won’t get easier any time soon.
Researchers estimate that by fiscal year 2020 another $845 million will be needed than in 2019—for a grand total of $9.39 billion—to cover the state's six pension funds. The study also found that the funded ratio for retirement systems ranged from 47.9 percent to 15.3 percent, leaving the already drastically underfunded system especially vulnerable to almost any market downturn.
“We are going to have to address these problems and I implore Democrats and Gov.-elect Pritzker to sit down with union leaders and start talking about how we figure this thing out,” said Bailey, elected in November with more than 75 percent of the vote in the 109th District. “It’s just mind boggling that we still have Democrats out there talking about instituting a progressive tax that will only handcuff us as a state even more.”
Recent statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau reveal more than 45,000 people fled Illinois last year, continuing a five-year trend that has seen people leaving the state at a faster pace than almost at any other period.
Bailey said the solution at least partly lies in holding lawmakers more accountable for the financial decisions they make and in instituting a system that requires leaders to run state government the same way executives run their businesses.
“We have to be willing to say enough is enough and truly mean it,” he said. “We have to be committed enough to do the things that are truly needed to right the ship.”
Through it all, Bailey said he remains optimistic about what he thinks he can accomplish in Springfield and about being a part of the ultimate solution.
“Part of what I plan to do is make sure people are really informed about what’s going on in government,” he said. “I believe when taxpayers learn about some of the things that are happening they will be moved to action by their anger and that’s when we’ll be able to get the kind of change it’s going to take.”
The 109th House District includes all or part of Clay, Edwards, Effingham, Jasper, Lawrence, Richland, Wabash, Wayne and White counties.