Spotlight Danville, Illinois, My Home Town: Bankrupt

Danville Illinois is bankrupt. That's not an official announcement yet, but it will be. Pensions are at the heart of it.

I have talked about my relationship with Danvile before, but here is a brief recap.

I grew up in Danville, Illinois, the home of Chuckles (the candy), Hyster (lift forks), Lauhoff (the world's largest grain elevator), Petersen Puritan (one of the world's largest aerosol bottling plants, think deodorant sprays), a GM foundry in adjacent Tilton, and many other industries.

All of those industries but Hyster are gone or sold to other companies. Hyster remains but production of forklifts doesn't. Lauhoff is now the Bunge corporation. Inquiring minds may be interested in the History of Chuckles, no longer made in Danville.

Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Van Dyke, Bobby Short, Gene Hackman, Irving Azoff, Hellen Morgan, are some of the celebrities that were born or raised in Danville.

The population of Danville was 44,000+ when I was in high school. It's now 31,597 despite huge growth in area.

I graduated from Danville Schlarman, a Catholic high school, in 1971 and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1976. My goal was to escape the area, and I did.

Curiously, just today, I was labeled a "traitor" for this. I will return to that in a moment, but let's get to the real story why towns like Danville are bankrupt.

Spotlight Pensions

Ask Danville, Illinois, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer if he has any control over his police and fire pension mess and you’ll quickly see frustration set in. “Springfield makes all the rules but localities have to pay for them.”

For decades Illinois has prided itself on being a “local control” state. Local control was originally meant to push authority for policy decisions down to the lowest levels of government – as close to the people as possible.

The reality, however, is just the opposite, and nowhere is that more evident than in the state laws mandating pension benefits for police and firemen across Illinois. State lawmakers impose one-size-fits-all government benefits and local governments – meaning local residents – have no choice but to pay them. For some cities, that’s bringing on bankruptcy.

Eisenhauer knows a thing or two about the local pension crises hitting cities across the state. Danville’s pension funding levels have collapsed to levels that make them virtually insolvent. The police pension fund in 2016 had just 30 cents of every dollar it needs to ensure it can meet its future obligations.

The fire fund is even more broke. It was just 17 percent funded then.

It’s why Danville recently implemented a special pension tax – what Wirepoints argues might be economic suicide for the city – to try to stave off the insolvency of their plans. Danville was featured in a Wirepoints report titled, Springfield fiddles while Illinois cities burn.

Eisenhauer is quick to describe one of the reasons why cities like Danville are in such a mess.

Of the five major components that impact a community’s pension costs – the number of active workers, the number of pension beneficiaries, salary levels, benefit levels and the pension fund’s actual rate of return – he argues he has partial control over just one: the number of active workers employed by the city. Even then, “minimum manning” laws – which require a city to keep a certain number of firefighters on duty at all times – prevent the mayor from having full control over headcounts.

More than half of Illinois’ 650 public safety funds are less than 60 percent funded, according to the most recent data from Illinois’ Department of Insurance

Perfect Timing

There is more to the article, but those are the essentials.

Just moments before I read that article I got into an exchange on Twitter where "Armed Snowflake" accused me of being spoon fed by wealthy parents.

The exchange started in response to my post "Free Stuff": Medicare for All Cost Pegged at $32.6 Trillion for 10 Years.​

"Free Stuff Like You Got From Your Wealthy Parents"

Violent Revolution

The conversation went on and the "Armed Snowflake" accused me of of being a "class traitor". He also supports violent revolution.​

Excuse me for pointing that that Venezuela is the result of extreme socialist policies.

An enlightened person chimed in.

Yeah right. Let's just give away free medical care, free preschool, free housing, and free college.

The results are predictable: First Danville, then Venezuela.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments
MissionAccomplished
MissionAccomplished

Anyone using the term "bourgeois" outside of a punchline is a punchline.

FFS already!

2banana
2banana

Public unions are the largest political donors of all time. They give nearly 100% of their money to democrats. Democrats reward public unions for their support. A never ending cycle of other people's money.

Realist
Realist

The problem is not Pensions; the problem is poorly designed and poorly run Pensions. Which appears to be common in the US. There are many well run pensions all over the world. As I often mention, look to your northern neighbor for some good examples. A well run pension will keep management expenses low and provide superior returns to what the average individual could do on their own. One example: HOOPP (Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan) is 122% funded and just increased benefits to retirees. Well run Pensions are to everyone’s benefit.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

The Great Recession will be followed the Great Reset as told by John Mauldin. When we look back in a few years there will be longing for better times of the Bush Obama and early Trump years.

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