State’s pension liability worrying potential businesses, official says
BY BOB OKON firstname.lastname@example.org December 7, 2012 4:12PM
Updated: January 10, 2013 6:34AM
The Illinois pension problem weighs on out-of-state business executives when they consider moving into Will County, said John Grueling, the county’s leading economic development official.
Illinois legislators are starting to deal with $90 billion in unfunded pension liability. And Greuling said a solid plan to address the problem will reassure companies considering locations in Will County and elsewhere in the state.
“I have businesses looking to move to Illinois,” said Greuling, chief executive of the Will County Center for Economic Development. “All the time, what they’re asking is, ‘What’s this $90 billion pension bill I keep hearing about. ...I’ll have to pay for that.”
Manufacturing executive Ron Bullock, the keynote speaker at the center’s Friday gathering, said the total bill actually is more than $90 billion. Bullock noted the $90 billion tab is based on a formula that calculates an 8 percent return on pension plan investments. But those investments now get returns of less than 2 percent, Bullock said.
Even so, Bullock commended legislators now proposing solutions to the pension problem and said Illinois manufacturing can thrive with good government policy.
“We have the opportunity to return Illinois to preeminence in manufacturing,” Bullock said. “I think we need to grab that.”