CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois is paying the price — in both dollars and reputation — for years of ignored warnings about its pension crisis.
For decades, lawmaker have skipped or shorted payments to state retirement funds, creating a $97 billion pension shortfall and giving Illinois the lowest credit rating of any state.
That means when Illinois tries to borrow money, the state is treated much like a person with a bad credit score. It gets charged interest rates far higher than its more responsible peers.
This week, Illinois is expected to try to borrow $1.3 billion to rebuild roads and repair Chicago's elevated trains. According to one estimate, taxpayers will pay more than $18 million in annual extra interest for that loan than states with strong credit ratings, such as Virginia or Maryland.