Court rules Illinois pension cuts unconstitutional

A Sangamon County Circuit Court judge today -- Friday, Nov. 21 -- granted motions brought by the We Are One Illinois union coalition and the other plaintiffs, ruling that the pension clause of the Illinois Constitution is absolute in its protection of public pensions and that legislation reducing the pensions of active and retired teachers, state employees and university employees is unconstitutional.

We Are One Illinois issued the following statement to the news media:

“We are gratified by the court’s ruling today, which makes clear that the Illinois Constitution means what it says. The court held today, as our unions have long argued, that the state cannot simply choose to violate the Constitution and diminish or impair retirement benefits if politicians find these commitments inconvenient to keep.

“This is a victory for every Illinois resident who believes in the integrity of the Constitution. It is a victory for a basic principle of fairness, that working people and retirees who earned modest pensions and always paid their share should not be punished for politicians’ failures. And it is a victory for the members of our unions, who work hard every day in every Illinois community to teach kids, protect public safety, care for the most vulnerable and much more. Today they are more secure in the knowledge that their life savings can’t be taken away from them.

“Going forward, our union coalition repeats our longstanding commitment to work with anyone of good faith to develop a fair and constitutional solution to fund the state’s retirement systems.”

Click here to view the judge’s ruling.