At issue was a December 2013 state law signed by then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn that stopped automatic, compounded yearly cost-of-living increases for retirees, extended retirement ages for current state workers and limited the amount of salary used to calculate pension benefits.
Employee unions sued, arguing that the state constitution holds that pension benefits amount to a contractual agreement and once they’re bestowed, they cannot be “diminished or impaired.” A circuit court judge in Springfield agreed with that assessment in November. State government appealed that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that economic necessity forced curbing retirement benefits.
On Friday the justices rejected that argument, saying the law clearly violated what’s known as the pension protection clause in the 1970 Illinois Constitution.
“Our economy is and has always been subject to fluctuations, sometimes very extreme fluctuations,” Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote on behalf of all seven justices. “The law was clear that the promised benefits would therefore have to be paid and that the responsibility for providing the state’s share of the necessary funding fell squarely on the legislature’s shoulders.
“The General Assembly may find itself in crisis, but it is a crisis which other public pension systems managed to avoid and … it is a crisis for which the General Assembly itself is largely responsible,” Karmeier wrote.
RIGHT?! You can’t just decide that okay, here’s a contract we want to void, so … fuck it. That’s the whole POINT of a contract, is to prevent that. Legislators want to get pissy because unions had the foresight to realize people would try to screw them over, and insisted on contracts to protect against that? SORRY NOT SORRY. Way to prove the SEIU’s point, shitbirds.
I can’t imagine why employee unions are reluctant to let legislators dick around with their benefits, given the general progressivism and appreciation legislators have shown workers at the state level lately. We need something, so let’s take it out of these people’s paychecks, because pretty much every asshole who writes letters to the editor can be convinced to hate on the state bureaucracy and that will make smug editorial boards feel better.
And don’t throw fiscal responsibility in my face. I don’t know what is fiscally responsible about breaking contracts. If the state’s word isn’t good, that should give everybody pause. The state promises things to entities public and private all the goddamn time, including subsidies to corporations to relocate and create jobs. Everyone has to trust that their agreements will be honored, even when things get rough for some of Springfield’s cocktail party attendees.