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Illinois comptroller: Cash crunch will delay pension payments

Illinois comptroller: Cash crunch will delay pension payments

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CHICAGO • Illinois will have to delay a November payment of $560 million to pension funds, and may also delay or reduce a similar payment in December, Comptroller Leslie Munger said on Wednesday, blaming a cash crunch stemming from the state's budget impasse.

"The fact is that our state simply does not have the revenue to meet its obligations," Munger told a news conference in Chicago.

Despite the delay, state pension funds will be paid in full by the end of fiscal 2016 next June, she said.

She said the state is making payments on bonds, which are prioritized.

Munger urged the governor and state lawmakers to approve a budget that would allow Illinois to regain its fiscal footing.

The battle between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the legislature has left Illinois without a budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1. However, the state is required, even without a budget, to put aside money each month for pensions and debt service on bonds.

Illinois' debt service payments on bonds total $3.4 billion in fiscal 2016, while payments to its five retirement systems total $6.8 billion, according to a May budget analysis by the Chicago-based Civic Federation.

Illinois has also been ordered by courts to pay its workers and comply with federal consent decrees to fund health care and other services based on fiscal 2015 funding levels. But fiscal 2016 revenue is projected to fall by nearly 18 percent from fiscal 2015 due mainly to the rollback of temporary higher income tax rates on Jan. 1.  

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