U.S. News

Illinois high court ruling in Chicago pension case due on Thursday

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday will release its ruling on the constitutionality of a 2014 state law aimed at boosting funding for two of Chicago’s pension funds, according to a court spokeswoman.

In oral arguments before the court in November, Chicago asserted the law affecting its municipal and laborers’ retirement systems actually benefited workers and retirees by taking steps to avoid insolvency for the funds.

The state law required the city and affected workers to increase their pension contributions and replaced an automatic 3 percent annual cost-of-living increase for retirees with one tied to inflation. The increase would be skipped in some years.

Without reforms, Chicago warned that the two funds would run out of money within 10 to 13 years.

City unions and retirees that filed challenges to the 2014 law contended Chicago merely wished to avoid paying for benefits promised to its workers, in violation of the state constitution’s pension protection clause.

Last May, the supreme court found a 2013 law that reduced retirement benefits to ease Illinois’ $111 billion unfunded liability in its five pension funds violated a state constitutional provision protecting public sector workers’ pensions.

Reporting by Karen Pierog and Dave McKinney; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler