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The 2015 Pension 40: Rahm Emanuel

No. 9 Rahm Emanuel, Mayor / Chicago

Rahm Emanuel
Mayor / Chicago
Last year: 4

Chicago is threatening to go up in flames again. In May, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the Windy City’s outstanding debt from investment grade to junk status — the seventh reduction in two years — citing Chicago’s unfunded pension liabilities. Moody’s research describes Chicago as the U.S. city most heavily burdened by unfunded liabilities: The current level of retirement debt is more than eight times annual revenue. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, 56, who inherited $32 billion in unfunded liabilities when he took office in 2011 (it’s now $29 billion), had hoped to restore part of the retirement system to financial health in 40 years through a 2014 bill that would lower annual cost-of-living increases for retired workers, raise the amount of taxes earmarked for the system and bump up city workers’ contributions by 2.5 percent annually over five years. The plan, however, involves just two of ten Chicago pension systems. Then–Illinois governor Pat Quinn approved the Chicago plan only to find his own state pension-overhaul plan, which reduced future benefits, overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court on constitutionality grounds. As Moody’s feared, a Cook County circuit court declared Emanuel’s reforms unconstitutional in July, and the case was appealed to the state supreme court. Emanuel and his lawyers argue that without reductions the two funds will become insolvent in 2025 and 2028. The mayor, who served as President Obama’s first White House chief of staff, incorporated his pension reform bill into his 2016 budget, which was approved in late October. If the Illinois Supreme Court is successful in smacking down the Chicago reforms, Emanuel, like Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (No. 1), will have to start all over again.

The 2015 Pension 40

1. Bruce Rauner
2. John & Laura Arnold
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
3. Chris Christie
New Jersey
4. Randi Weingarten
AmericanFederation of Teachers
5. Phyllis Borzi
U.S. Department of Labor
6. Kevin de León
7. Alejandro García Padilla
Commonwealth ofPuerto Rico
8. Laurence Fink
9. Rahm Emanuel
10. Sean McGarvey
North AmericanBuilding Trades Unions
11. John Kline
12. J. Mark Iwry
U.S. TreasuryDepartment
13. Damon Silvers
14. Jeffrey Immelt
General Electric Co.
15. Joshua Gotbaum
Brookings Institution
16. Robin Diamonte
United Technologies Corp.
17. Mark Mullet
18. Terry O'Sullivan
Laborers' International Union of North America
19. Raymond Dalio
Bridgewater Associates
20. Ted Wheeler
21. Thomas Nyhan
Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund
22. Karen Ferguson & Karen Friedman
Pensions Rights Center
23. Randy DeFrehn
National Coordinating Committee forMultiemployer Plans
24. Robert O'Keef
Motorola Solutions
25. Caitlin Long
Morgan Stanley
26. Kenneth Feinberg
The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Feinberg
27. Orrin Hatch
28. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Center for Retirement Initiatives, Georgetown University
29. Ian Lanoff
Groom Law Group
30. Joshua Rauh
Stanford Graduate School of Business
31. Ted Eliopoulos
California Public Employees' Retirement System
32. Edward (Ted) Siedle
Benchmark Financial Services
33. Teresa Ghilarducci
New School for Social Research
34. Denise Nappier
35. W. Thomas Reeder Jr.
Pension BenefitGuaranty Corp.
36. Hank Kim
National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems
37. Paul Singer
Elliott Management Corp.
38. Bailey Childers
National PublicPension Coalition
39. Amy Kessler
Prudential Financial
40. Judy Mares
U.S. Labor Department

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