Batinick argues state can't afford to wait any longer to address pension debt crisis
Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) argues colleague Jeanne Ives' stand against Illinois’ growing debt crisis couldn’t have come at a more critical time.
“We can’t afford to wait any longer,” Batinick told the Will County Gazette. “To not address it will only lead to the problem growing worse. This massive problem of debt won't just go away on its own.”
With that in mind, Ives (R-Wheaton) recently introduced the Local Government Bankruptcy Neutral Evaluation Act, insisting that it may offer cities across the state a fighting chance of digging themselves out from under all the financial rubble many of them are now being deluged with.
Ives has further hailed House Bill 5644 as legislation that “authorizes a local public entity to initiate a neutral evaluation process if that entity is unable to meet its financial obligations.”
The proposal comes on the heels of the City of Harvey having its tax revenues garnished due to growing pension liabilities. At least 20 other Illinois cities could soon face a similar fate without an immediate financial restructuring, according to Ives.
In each instance, Ives said the overriding problem has proven to be the issue of rising pension obligations. In the case of Harvey, the city is reported to be tens of millions in debt in unfunded pension payments.
“Something has to give,” said Batinick, running for re-election in the 97th District in November’s general election. “Right now, cities are faced with the prospect of deciding between less services or more taxes for their residents.”
Batinick said he isn’t sure where he stands on the question of whether cities should be allowed to file for bankruptcy, but conceded as the situation grows direr very few options can be completely discounted.
“It’s something to look at,” he said. “It’s hard for cities to maintain services when all the money is going to pension payments.”
The 97th District includes all or parts of Oswego, Plainfield and Shorewood.