CHICAGO Dec 4 A day after the Illinois
Legislature passed a sweeping reform of the state's troubled
pension system, a state legislative commission reported on
Wednesday that Illinois' long-term funding gap for its public
pension systems rose only slightly at the end of fiscal 2013.
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability
said the state's unfunded pension liability for its five pension
funds inched up to $97.46 billion in fiscal 2013 from $96.8
billion at the end of fiscal 2012.
Strong investment returns were the largest single factor in
keeping Illinois' unfunded pension liability from rising
further, the report found.
Investment returns also helped improve the funding ratio for
the Illinois funds, to 41.1 percent in fiscal 2013 from 39
percent in fiscal 2012, according to the report.
"Higher-than-expected investment returns were the largest
driver of the slight uptick in the funding ratio," the
commission's report stated.
Growing pension costs, which are squeezing out funding for
core state services such as education, have led to a series of
credit rating downgrades for Illinois, which now has the lowest
ratings among states.
On Tuesday, the Democrat-controlled legislature sent a bill
to Governor Pat Quinn that backers have said will cut the
unfunded liability by 20 percent and save the state $160 billion
over 30 years.
The commission also reported that state general funds
revenue was up $584 million or 4.6 percent in the first five
months of fiscal 2014 compared to the same period in fiscal