Late last year, the Illinois General Assembly passed and the governor signed into law legislation aimed at solving the state’s pension crisis. Although the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has yet to release an official report on how much money Senate Bill 1 saves, it is estimated to shave about $20 billion off of Illinois’ unfunded liability.
That sounds like a lot of money. But it still leaves Illinois in the hole for $75 billion (and that’s assuming you accept the state’s assumptions about how much money its investments will make).
Some perspective—even after SB1, Illinois’ unfunded pension liability is:
- More than two times the state’s 2013 operating budget
- Eight times more than Illinois’ annual investment in education
- Fifty times more than what the state spends on public safety in a year
- More than two-hundred what the state invested in economic development in 2013
To create the tree map above, I used data from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget  as well as the actuarial analysis of SB1 from the State Employees Retirement System, the Teachers Retirement System, and the State Universities Retirement System. 
|Environment and culture||$56|
|Statutory transfers out||$2,840|
|Capital bond debt service||$551|
|Pension bond debt service||$1,552|
To clarify a few of the categories of spending:
Unspent appropriations—Also known as “salvage,” this is money appropriated to agencies that ends up being more than their actual expenses, or money that is reserved at the discretion of the governor.
Statutory transfers out—As the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability explains, these are “funds that, pursuant to state legislation, must be paid from the General Fund to other state funds, to local governments, and to cover other state obligations created by statute.”  For example, the State is required to pay part of the income tax revenue it receives to the Local Government Distributive Fund. This expenditure falls under the “statutory transfers out” category.
Capital and pension bond debt service—Debt service is how much money is owed on a loan, including both the principal amount and interest. In the case of capital bonds, it’s debt related to the construction or improvement of things like bridges, roads, and schools. In the case of pensions, it’s debt that a state issued to pay down a deficit in its pension system. Illinois issued pension debt, or “pension obligation bonds,” in 2003 and 2010.