Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is asking the state of Illinois to lump the city's pension liabilities into a statewide fund with other local pensions, essentially transferring the city’s debt load to taxpayers across the state.
Lightfoot has been meeting with freshman Governor J.B. Pritzker, also a Chicago Democrat, about the prospect of consolidating the city’s $28 billion debt into a statewide fund that would include the police and firefighter pension obligations of the rest of the state’s municipalities, which as of 2017, had accumulated $11 billion in unfunded liabilities, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.
The move could be a game-changing one for Lightfoot, who must find an additional $1 billion for the city's larger pension contribution next year, as mandated by state law.
“The city has substantial budget issues and financial issues particularly around our pensions and we’re going to work together cooperatively to see what we can get done,” Lightfoot said at an event in Chicago alongside Pritzker.
In exchange for picking up that tab, Lightfoot said that she would push for other statewide taxes like a tax on retirement income above $100,000 and expanding the sales tax, according to media reports.