SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois judge has ruled that a law intended to fix the nation’s worst state employee pension crisis violates the state Constitution.

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.

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The state is expected to appeal the ruling directly to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The overhaul was approved by lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn last year. Years of underfunding had put the state’s pension systems roughly $100 billion short of what they need to cover benefits promised to employees.

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The law reduces benefits for retirees, but also reduces employee contributions. The lawsuit argued that the Constitution prohibits reducing benefits or compensation.

The state argued that pensions can be modified in times of crisis.

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