Union coalition: Gov. Rauner's proposed pension cuts 'clearly illegal'

In his Feb. 18 budget address, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled a plan to end Tier 1 pension benefits for state employees, university employees and teachers outside Chicago hired before 2011, forcing them either into the sharply lower Tier 2 or a 401(k)-style private Wall Street account.

In response, the We Are One Illinois coalition of unions that represent active and retired public-service workers issued this strong statement:

"Under his proposed cuts to pensions earned and paid into by teachers, caregivers, correctional officers and other public employees, Gov. Rauner would rob the retirement security of those who dedicate their lives to public service—most of whom aren't eligible for Social Security, and many of whom risk their physical safety to serve.

"These unfair cuts are clearly in violation of the plain language of the constitutional pension clause.

"Besides being illegal, forcing employees into the lower 'Tier 2' or a private Wall Street account would likely require adding Social Security eligibility—making this proposal even more costly to the state than the current pension plan.

"Instead of inviting further litigation with clearly illegal schemes to strip the life savings of working people—and delaying real budget solutions with illusory savings from those illegal schemes—the governor should work with our coalition and lawmakers to develop a fair and constitutional approach to restoring fiscal soundness to state retirement funds."