Illinois Supreme Court justices asked the state’s lawyer to explain Wednesday how the government can seek extraordinary power to reduce public pension benefits in the face of a fiscal crisis when the government itself is culpable for the financial mess.
Delivering his first budget address since winning office last fall, Gov. Bruce Rauner said his plan would end “the irresponsible and reckless practices of the past.” He said lawmakers must be willing to make politically unpopular decisions to close a more than $6 billion budget hole next year.
Current and retired city workers and their labor unions have filed a lawsuit arguing a law overhauling Chicago’s pension systems is unconstitutional. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court also asks a judge to stop the law from taking effect Jan. 1.
The case involves the pension fix lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn adopted last year. The law cut retirement benefits and made other changes to help fill a $111 billion deficit in five state pensions systems caused by years of state underfunding.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she expects the state’s highest court could take up the state’s landmark pension overhaul plan by the end of January, now that a lower court judge has ruled it unconstitutional.
Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz ruled Friday in favor of state employees and retirees who sued to block the state’s landmark pension overhaul. The state is expected to appeal the ruling directly to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Aldermen have approved a plan to hike the city’s monthly 911 surcharge on phone bills by 56 percent to help shore up the city’s pension funds, and avoid a property tax hike before next year’s elections.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he has lined up enough City Council support to increase the monthly surcharge added to phone bills in Chicago, as part of the effort to address the city’s pension crisis.
Labor leaders were planning to go to court to block legislation cutting pension benefits and raising the retirement ages for many city workers, and opening the door for a property tax hike to help pay the city’s share of employee pension costs.
The Sun-Times’ Scott Fornek’s eye for fashion led to a bit of a scoop for the veteran political reporter and editor.
It’s deadline day for Gov. Pat Quinn. He has until midnight to decide how to act on legislation to overhaul some of Chicago’s underfunded employee pension systems.
A plan to overhaul some of Chicago’s underfunded employee pension systems could spell a long weekend for Gov. Pat Quinn, who has until Monday to decide what to do with the legislation on his desk.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel essentially told Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday, “I scratched your back, now you scratch mine,” when it comes to pension reform, amid signs the governor might veto or significantly alter legislation to reform two city pension funds.
A Sangamon County judge stopped Illinois’ state pension overhaul law from taking effect Wednesday, issuing a stay on the law until the court can rule on its constitutionality.
The board of the State Universities Retirement System voted Thursday to accept an interpretation of last year’s state-pension reform law that says the law won’t inadvertently cut university retirees’ pensions.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s offer to give cities a bigger cut of income tax revenues to help with pension debts without raising property taxes met with a lukewarm reception from the Emanuel administration.
Municipalities statewide have pushed for legislative help for underfunded pensions. Mayors say costs have risen, pension obligations are crowding out spending for other services and raising property taxes may be the answer. Quinn’s against raising property taxes.
More than two dozen mayors and village presidents from Chicago’s suburbs and downstate are warning Illinois lawmakers not to forget that they are undergoing a police and fire pension crisis of their own.
The University of Illinois was warning state lawmakers of a problem with a pension reform plan that the school fears will trigger a crippling “brain drain” as faculty members consider retiring this summer.
The legislation sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan overcame earlier resistance after the Chicago Democrat removed language mentioning the tax increase. Opponents feared they’d be blamed for a Chicago tax increase.