HEADLINES : Illinois
Closer Look: Pension debt costs hurt across Ill.
Behind the nearly unfathomable numbers and often impenetrable debate at the Capitol, real people and programs are feeling the impact. There's less money for poor people to get medical care. More public employees are losing their jobs. Class sizes are surging. And taxpayers are paying more when their cities borrow money, thanks to what's become known around New York bond houses as "the Illinois effect."
Illinois' annual pension fund payment is expected to increase by about $1 billion to nearly $7 billion in the fiscal year that starts in July. That's more than 16 percent of the state's general funds budget, up from 6 percent in 2008.
As the share of money for pensions has grown, other areas have shrunk. In 2008, education received 30 percent of the general funds budget and health care accounted for 28 percent. This year, 26 percent went to education and 24 percent to health care.