Illinois' bad credit costing taxpayers millions

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Associated Press

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 2:36 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 25 at 7:01 AM

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.

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