Nothing unusual about unbalanced city budgets until state 'completely changes,' says TUA's Schultz
Taxpayers United of America (TUA) Executive Director Matthew Schultz was not necessarily surprised to hear that the City of Waukegan recently submitted a budget with a $3.5 deficit.
“Governments feel they no longer have a choice but to file unbalanced budgets with pension debt rising the way it is,” Schultz told the Lake County Gazette. “In Waukegan, pension contributions have risen from $11.2 million to $16.6 million since 2016. Until we address our pension situation, we will continue to see these kinds of developments, without question.”
Schultz predicts that the northern Lake County suburb's taxpayers will be the real losers in the overall $180 million budget submitted by Mayor Sam Cunningham, which to date has met with little resistance from city aldermen.
“That’s why you’re seeing so many people leaving Waukegan and the state of Illinois as a whole,” Schultz said. “People are taking off because they don’t want to be forced to pay off the massive burden of so many people getting to retire with huge pension plans while still in their 50s. To change things will take pro-growth policy or a constitutional amendment that completely changes the way we’re doing things.”
Schultz said that it is no coincidence that the largest group fleeing the state are young people.
“Without major reforms, the state will effectively become bankrupt,” he said. “Illinois will continue to stumble until it seeks reform, and until we reform, the system will go deeper into the hole."
The Chicago Tribune reports that Waukegan is almost certain to run in the red this year with such costs as a flat property tax levy and falling sales and income tax revenues accounting for much of the debt.