Illinois pensions

The Illinois Supreme Court has struck down legislation that tried to cut retirement benefits for thousands of state workers.

In a unanimous decision, the high court says lawmakers overstepped their power when they sought to cut pension benefits for state employees, university workers and public school teachers.

Illinois pensions are protected by the state Constitution, but the state argued a financial emergency meant those protections could be disregarded.

Democrats Push For Pension Plan Details

Apr 14, 2015
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s ideas about how to change government-employee pensions are getting extra scrutiny in Springfield.

Rauner wants employees to be moved into less-generous plans for future pension benefits.

So far, it’s just something he’s talked about. Democrats who’ve long focused on pension issues say that needs to change.

Sen. Daniel Biss, of Evanston, is calling for an actuarial analysis. He also says the idea that legislation would be passed and make it through the inevitable court challenge any time soon is a “fantasy."

Pension Overhaul In Hands Of State Supreme Court

Mar 11, 2015
Illinois Supreme Court

Oral arguments on whether state law passed in 2013 will stand were held Wednesday before the Illinois Supreme Court. 

The law reduces benefits for public employees like teachers, prison guards and many others.

State-employee unions object, citing a section of the state constitution -- Article VIII Section 5 -- which they say clearly prevents the state from taking such action.

Illinois Solicitor General Carolyn Shapiro, representing the state, disagrees.

Some of the main architects of the Illinois law that seeks to save the state money by reducing workers' pensions have begun collecting pensions of their own.

state of Illinois

Legislators passed a law overhauling the state's retirement systems. Soaring pension debt remains a concern. The law's constitutionality is also in question. It reduces workers' and retirees' benefits, and raises the retirement age.


The State Universities Annuitants Association, which lobbies to protect the pension benefits of higher education employees, and the Illinois Attorney General have reached a tentative agreement to push the start of pension reform for community college and university workers back until July 2015.  The agreement must still be approved by a Sangamon County judge.

In a release, SUAA Executive Director Linda Brookhart says the deal addresses a critical issue:

This month, Illinois lawmakers took a major step in repairing the state's finances by approving a pension overhaul. The plan has its critics, including unions who promise to file a lawsuit. The courts will decide whether the pending changes violate the state's constitution. 


Illinois' largest state government retirement system is moving ahead with implementation of the pension overhaul. The move comes even as unions are preparing a lawsuit.

Teachers Retirement System spokesman Dave Urbanek says the agency is preparing to implement the law when it goes into effect next year on June 1st.

TRS has been getting a lot of questions from concerned teachers, but there are no easy answers. Urbanek says every retiree will be treated differently depending on their pension amount and years of service.

Gov. Quinn Signs Pension Reform Bill

Dec 5, 2013
Amanda Vinicky / Illinois Public Radio / WUIS

In just over a week, a pension overhaul went from an agreement between Illinois' legislative leaders to law.

On Tuesday, lawmakers voted for the plan to bring down the state's $100 billion pension debt.

Thursday, Governor Pat Quinn signed it into law.

Senator Daniel Biss, a Democrat from Evanston, was key to its passage.  During the Senate debate, he called it a reasonable compromise.

Roll Call And Reaction To Pension Overhaul Passage

Dec 3, 2013
Amanda Vinicky / IPR

Illinois lawmakers approved cuts to state employee pensions Tuesday. The move comes after years of stalemate over how to address the worst-funded pension plans of any state.

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn immediately declared victory and says he'll sign it into law, while labor unions promise a court challenge.