A successful effort to invalidate the debt would have saddled investors with losses and potentially left the state facing higher interest rates to compensate for the risk of such challenges. The state already has $141 billion of unfunded pension liabilities, almost no money in its rainy day fund and expects deficits through at least 2026.
“I am of course disappointed in the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling,” Tillman said in an emailed statement Thursday after the ruling. “We are evaluating our options as to how to proceed from here. In the interim, I continue to be profoundly concerned about Illinois’ reckless debt accumulation. All Illinoisans should care about this.”
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Tillman added that if the state doesn’t push for pension reform now a fiscal crisis could pose a threat to taxpayers, people who depend on government services and retirees.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s “administration is pleased that the Supreme Court sided with hardworking taxpayers over a frivolous lawsuit designed to grab headlines,” according to an emailed statement from spokesperson Emily Bittner. The court “rejected the plaintiff’s belated attempt to create unnecessary havoc in Illinois’ fiscal standing,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office said in a statement.
The state’s top court focused on how long Tillman waited to file his action rather than the constitutional question, and in the opinion said “we find that this delay is unreasonable.”
With the outcome of the case now behind the state, it “can move forward in addressing the more pertinent fiscal issues,” said Dennis Derby, a portfolio manager for Wells Fargo Asset Management, which owns Illinois debt that was challenged as well as other bonds issued by the state as part of a $40 billion municipal-bond portfolio.