Although one court has tossed out Illinois’ mega pension overhaul, state leaders are likely to wait on another legal opinion before deciding what to do next.

There’s no question -- the Sangamon County Circuit Court judge’s ruling is meaningful. But Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office is appealing to the state Supreme Court.

Madigan has said it makes sense for lawmakers to wait to hear from those justices.

Brian Mackey

Politicians, public employee unions and others spent the last several years focused on pensions. Illinois racked up a $100 billion unfunded liability -- largely because lawmakers didn't pay the state's share of its workers retirement benefits.

Eric Madiar is the top attorney for the Illinois Senate President. He found a report that said Illinois' pension systems were on the "verge of insolvency" in 1917.

"...and it stemmed primarily from the fact had not been properly been financing pensions."
--- Eric Madiar, Senate Democrats' Chief Legal Counsel

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.

Judge Puts Hold On Pension Reform Law

May 15, 2014
flickr user / Brian Turner (CC BY 2.0)

Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Belz has issued a temporary restraining order that prevents Illinois' pension reform law from being implemented until questions about the law's constitutionality and a suit challenging it can be resolved.  The law was scheduled to take effect June 1. 

Five lawsuits by groups representing state workers and retirees challenging the law have been consolidated in Sangamon County court.   

It's a temporary victory for government employees who say the law is unconstitutional.

Pension Committee Update

Sep 27, 2013
Brian Mackey / IPR

A special committee has been negotiating over how to solve the pension problem for more than 12 weeks. 

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, is careful these days when she talks about the status of pension deliberations, and especially when asked how close legislators are to reaching a deal.

"I have actually stopped making predictions publicly, because I have been so wrong, that I'm a little bit embarrassed at this point," she says.