SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois' public-employee pensions system is so far in debt that it is "unfixable," an influential business group said Wednesday.

The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago told its members in a memo that even current retirees' benefits must be cut to retain any kind of pension program. Drastic action, including cuts to existing benefits, is necessary to prevent pension-program bankruptcy, it said in the memo, provided in advance to The Associated Press.

"The pension crisis has grown so severe that it is now unfixable," former state attorney general Tyrone Fahner, the committee's president, wrote in the memo. "We do not make that statement lightly. It is an honest statement that no one — not our legislators, nor our governor, nor labor leaders — is willing to say publicly."

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