The Governor and legislative leaders – minus the House Speaker – continued negotiations during the week regarding the state’s ongoing budget impasse and while a compromise wasn’t reached, it was described as a good meeting.
Meanwhile, a recent report shows Illinois’ unfunded pension liability continues to grow, now at $111 billion.
The state received good news during the week regarding high school graduation rates and the overall health and well-being of its citizens.
Madigan doesn’t attend latest budget meeting
Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan did not attend the latest budget meeting with legislative leaders and Governor Bruce Rauner December 17 in Chicago.
In a meeting that was described as good, the other three legislative leaders and the Governor also touched on public pension reform, workers’ compensation reform, redistricting reform, term limits for lawmakers, and the school funding formula.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives are scheduled to return to Springfield January 13.
Illinois’ unfunded pension liability grows
A recent report from the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability shows Illinois’ unfunded pension liability has now reached $111 billion. The newest figure is up from about $105 billion in 2014 and about $98 billion in 2013. The Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System alone accounts for $62 billion of the overall unfunded liability.
This report continues to highlight the need for pension reform that is fair to employees and taxpayers, and that helps Illinois regain its financial footing.
Earlier this year, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a pension reform law.
Higher rate of Illinois high school students receiving their diplomas
Illinois schools are performing better than 30 other states when it comes to high school students receiving a diploma. A report from the U.S. Department of Education says Illinois ranks 20th in the country in its high school graduation rate at 86 percent – four percentage points higher than the national average at 82 percent.
While the national average is the highest on record since the U.S. Department of Education started using a new, uniform measure in 2010, nearly one in five high school students still are not receiving a diploma.
Iowa recorded the best high school graduation rate at 90.5 percent.
Report: Illinois’ health and well-being improving
Illinois is trending in the right direction when it comes to the overall health and well-being of the state’s citizens, compared to the rest of the country. The 2015 America’s Health Rankings report shows Illinois jumped two spots to 28th place.
The good news for Illinois, according to the report, is the state has seen a 30 percent decrease in violent crime over the last 10 years. The state’s infant mortality rate has also dropped considerably – 48 percent since 1990. In the past 10 years, premature deaths have decreased 13 percent as well.
The last time Illinois ranked this well was in 2007, when it also ranked 28th.