UPDATE 1-Illinois teachers sue in effort to block pension reform law

Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:25pm EST

CHICAGO Dec 27 (Reuters) - A group of teachers and public school officials filed a class-action lawsuit on Friday in state court seeking to void Illinois' new pension reform law on grounds the cuts to pension benefits violate the state constitution.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, claims that changes to current and retired teacher pensions passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn earlier this month violate protections for public sector worker retirement benefits in the Illinois Constitution.

With the state's finances buckling under a $100 billion unfunded pension liability, the controversial measure reduces and suspends cost-of-living increases for pensions, raises retirement ages and limits the salaries on which pensions are based.

The lawsuit names Quinn, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System's (TRS) board of trustees as defendants and seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. It was filed as a class action, representing retired and active members of TRS, who are not currently members of any teachers' labor union.

It is also only the first shot of litigation against the law, which a coalition of public labor unions has vowed to fight.

The reforms, which take effect in June, are expected to save the state $160 billion over 30 years, while immediately reducing the unfunded pension liability by 20 percent. The law offers workers and retirees some sweeteners, including a reduction in contributions toward pensions and a method for ensuring the state fully makes its contributions.

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Comments (2)
Earls wrote:
What this article fails to point out is that that the pension funding issues that Illinois faces today have been around for decades. This is one reason why at the 1970 Illinois Constitution Convention delegates representing all political views decided that state employees must have pension protection guaranteed by the Illinois Constitution. The people of Illinois agreed by voting for approval of the amended Constitution. Now the Governor of Illinois and the leaders of both Illinois political parties want to trash the Illinois and US Constitutions, want to trash contract law, and want to trash state retirees by supporting this so-called “pension reform” legislation.

Since the 1970 Constitution Convention what has happened is that elected officials from both political parties have made the political choice not to fund on a consistent basis the legally mandated funding of these pensions. There also have been cases of these politicians taken money out of these funds for other purposes. In essence they have used the pensions as a credit card in lieu of raising the necessary taxes to fund other services and programs. If these same thing happened in the private section, embezzlement charges would no doubt be enacted.
Also, if Illinois state officials had abided with the law by funding properly the state pensions, these pensions would be in good fiscal health today, in spite of the 2008 recession created by Wall St

Now these politicians want to solve the pension problem they created by slashing legally owed retiree’s COLAs(cost-of-living adjustments
If the Illinois Supreme Court “legitimizes” this theft, the average Illinois state retiree will loose one-third of his/her pension over his/her lifetime. It is interesting to note, however, that the so-called “pension reform” legislation excludes the slashing of COLAs for one particular group of Illinois state employees–the judges.
Some would say that by excluding judges this is a case of blatant bribery for the judge’s approval to “legitimize” the theft of pensions of members of the other state pension systems

So

Dec 29, 2013 9:38am EST  --  Report as abuse
Earls wrote:
What this article fails to point out is that that the pension funding issues that Illinois faces today have been around for decades. This is one reason why at the 1970 Illinois Constitution Convention delegates representing all political views decided that state employees must have pension protection guaranteed by the Illinois Constitution. The people of Illinois agreed by voting for approval of the amended Constitution. Now the Governor of Illinois and the leaders of both Illinois political parties want to trash the Illinois and US Constitutions, want to trash contract law, and want to trash state retirees by supporting this so-called “pension reform” legislation.

Since the 1970 Constitution Convention what has happened is that elected officials from both political parties have made the political choice not to fund on a consistent basis the legally mandated funding of these pensions. There also have been cases of these politicians taken money out of these funds for other purposes. In essence they have used the pensions as a credit card in lieu of raising the necessary taxes to fund other services and programs. If these same thing happened in the private section, embezzlement charges would no doubt be enacted.
Also, if Illinois state officials had abided with the law by funding properly the state pensions, these pensions would be in good fiscal health today, in spite of the 2008 recession created by Wall St

Now these politicians want to solve the pension problem they created by slashing legally owed retiree’s COLAs(cost-of-living adjustments
If the Illinois Supreme Court “legitimizes” this theft, the average Illinois state retiree will loose one-third of his/her pension over his/her lifetime. It is interesting to note, however, that the so-called “pension reform” legislation excludes the slashing of COLAs for one particular group of Illinois state employees–the judges.
Some would say that by excluding judges this is a case of blatant bribery for the judge’s approval to “legitimize” the theft of pensions of members of the other state pension systems

So

Dec 29, 2013 9:38am EST  --  Report as abuse
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