Standard & Poor's downgraded Illinois' credit rating Wednesday, citing concerns over the state's inability to address its massively underfunded employee pension plans.
The action was taken less than two weeks after a special session in which Illinois lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on changing the state pension systems. Illinois still ranks 49th among the states, better only than California.
Conservative estimates indicate Illinois is $83 billion short of what it has promised state workers in retirement benefits. But Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability said said there is nothing inherently wrong with the state's pension plans.
He said the problem is that for 40 years the state “borrowed like a credit card” from pensions to pay for other services. But instead of acknowledging that, state leaders and lawmakers have played politics with the issue.