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Taxpayer advocates want taxpayers to drive Chicago pension changes

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(The Center Square) – A group of Illinois taxpayer advocates are calling on Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson to solve the city’s public pension crisis.

Johnson formed a working group to address specific pension issues and dedicated revenue as part of what he says is a comprehensive and balanced approach to fund the public employee retiree benefit.

In a recent letter the Taxpayer Pension Alliance sent Johnson, the group said the city’s unfunded pension liability is more than $52 billion, which would cost about $45,000 per Chicago household. On Wednesday, those demanding pension fixes were in Chicago to highlight the issue.

The Taxpayer Pension Alliance includes Wirepoints, the Technology and Manufacturing Association, the Center for Pension Integrity and the Illinois Policy Institute.

Josh Bandoch with Illinois Policy Institute explained what they are trying to accomplish by putting pressure on the working group.

“The purpose … was to first observe the reality that Chicago has a big pension problem,” Bandoch said. “That pension problem is really harmful to all Chicagoans.”

The best way to solve the problem is by community involvement, Bandoch said.

“What we are asking the mayor to do specifically, in the context of his pension working group, which he formed, and that is great because it means he realizes there is a problem, or else we wouldn’t have a working group,” Bandoch said. “We think the only way that working group provides a viable solution is if taxpayers drive that conversation.”

Bandoch called for outside help as well.

“We need to evaluate the scope of the problem in the best way possible, which is by having any proposal scored by an independent professional actuaries so we can rigorously analyze it and know if this would actually solve our problems,” Bandoch said.

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