A Sangamon County Circuit Court judge was set to hear oral arguments Thursday over the constitutionally of Illinois' pension reform law passed last year.
In March, the Illinois Supreme Court consolidated four lawsuits from employee and retiree organizations, which argued that the pension reform law passed Dec. 3, 2013, violates the constitutional clause that pension benefits “shall not be diminished or impaired.”
The law, aimed at saving $160 billion over the next 30 years, decreases cost-of-living adjustments, caps pensionable salaries and raises retirement ages, but it actually decreases employee contributions by one percentage point. It also creates a defined contribution plan that will be made available for a portion of employees.
In May, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Belz granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on the pension reform law until the law's constitutionality is decided.
Illinois' five state retirement systems had an aggregate unfunded liability of $104.6 billion as of June 30, according to a report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
A recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling on health insurance premiums has union officials believing the pension reform law will be overturned.
In July, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that health insurance premiums for retirement state workers are “a benefit of membership in a pension or retirement system” and as a result “are constitutionally protected from any diminishment or impairment.”
Government officials maintain the pension reform law is constitutional.
Abdon Pallasch, assistant Illinois state budget director and spokesman for Gov. Pat Quinn, and Maura Possley, spokeswoman for Attorney General Lisa Madigan, declined to comment in advance of Thursday's session.
Michael T. Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, could not be reach for a comment by press time.