The woman who pays the state’s bills says her office would like to pay down state bills with money brought in from the sale of Thomson Prison, but Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says it’s still not enough.
The state’s plan is to first pay off bonds used to pay to construct the prison. After that, the governor has said the state should focus on paying down some bills. Topinka says even with money left over after paying off bonds, it isn’t enough to cover the state’s $8 billion in debts.
Topinka says pension reform would help the state’s financial condition. She says it’s something that must be done but she thinks the outcome will be ultimately unfair. “Our state employees take such a beating that they have these pensions, they don’t really make all that much on these pensions. We have a few that obviously stand out, but the majority are not that great, and these are things people have paid for. They’ve never missed a payment. So they’re going to take the heat for this when in effect they haven’t done the deed. They’ve been on the right here, right along. So it’s a really unfair thing, but you got to play the hand you’re dealt and here we sit so it’s got to get done.”
The governor wants lawmakers to work on pension reform when they return to Springfield for the fall Veto Session. Thomson was sold to the federal government for $165 million.