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Pension Cuts Declared Unconstitutional

November 21st, 2014

On November 21, 2014, a Sangamon County Judge held Public Act 98-0599 violates Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution. The Court concluded, the Act is “unconstitutional and void in its entirety…” In late 2013 the Illinois General Assembly enacted a law increasing the minimum retirement age and cutting annual cost of living increases of current employees. Defending the law, the Attorney General argued the State’s police powers and Illinois’ financial “emergency” trumped the “Pension Protection Clause” of the Illinois Constitution. The Court rejected that argument.

The Court wrote, “on its face, the Act impairs and diminishes the benefits of membership in State retirement systems in multiple ways…”  Continuing, the Court explained, “Illinois Courts have consistently held over time that the Illinois Pension Clause’s protection against the diminishment and impairment of pension benefits is absolute and without exception.” The Court further declared, “the State of Illinois made a constitutionally protected promise to its employees concerning their pension benefits.”

A copy of the decision can be downloaded here: 11212014pensionruling

Undoubtedly, the State will appeal the Circuit Court Judge’s ruling. It is likely this matter will be appealed directly to the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois. Our firm will continue to follow this monumental pension case.