Fri January 3, 2014
Another Pension Lawsuit Is Filed
More Illinois retirees are suing to block changes to the state's pension system. They're fighting a new law that seeks to save billions of dollars by cutting benefits.
Last week, it was retired teachers suing over the law. This week, it's two groups of former state workers.
Bruce Strom is president of the Retired State Employees Association. He says retirees shouldn't have to face cuts because politicians diverted money from pensions to other programs. Strom says while the state was taking so-called pension holidays, employees had no such option, and continued making their contributions.
The lawsuit argues cutting benefits is forbidden by the Illinois Constitution. It also says retired state employees and teachers are being treated unfairly, since the law did not include the pensions of retired judges. Lawmakers excluded judges to prevent what they said was a potential “judicial conflict.”
When he signed the law, Governor Pat Quinn asserted there would be no reductions in pension checks going out to current retirees.
However, attorney John Myers, who represents one of the plaintiffs, sees it differently.
"They're not reducing the checks that the retirees are going to get next week, but they're reducing future checks" Myers said.
Meanwhile, Governor Quinn and other supporters of the overhaul have expressed confidence that the law will be upheld. They say without the changes, pension payments will continue to eat up large portions of the state budget.