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home : opinions : letters to the editor   April 29, 2016

8/8/2013 9:23:00 AM
Letters to the editor: Pension fiasco: Concerned taxpayers should make their voices heard

Here is the section of the Illinois constitution pertaining to pension benefits:
 SECTION 5. PENSION AND RETIREMENT RIGHTS   Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.
(Source: Illinois Constitution.)
It would appear that any action taken by our legislators and governor to reduce pension expense must do that by diminishing or impairing benefits. This seems to me to be in direct contradiction to the constitution. I am sure lawsuits and court proceedings would be undertaken once legislators and the governor pass a bill making reductions. I believe if even one affected individual files suit that it would be given class action status that would apply to all those receiving state pension benefits.
Speaker Madigan has stated that the Illinois Supreme Court has a majority of Democrats that will be sympathetic to Illinois financial woes and would approve his pension adjustment plan.
I just cannot comprehend how any judge, Democrat, Republican, or independent that is sworn to uphold the Illinois laws and constitution could rationalize and approve the lawfulness of any reductions. And, does the Illinois Supreme Court have the final say? Or is there something in the situation that the United States Supreme Court might agree to consider?
I would appreciate local lawyers and judges too, if they are permitted, weighing in on the subject via the Open Forum. I fear that the Illinois court system will declare any reductions unconstitutional.
How long to meander through the courts? The financial situation will only worsen, but then our legislators and governor will be able to loudly proclaim that they did their level best to solve the situation.
 I have no connection to Illinois pension benefits or to any person involved, and have no union affiliation.
My only involvement is that I am an Illinois taxpayer concerned with our abysmal fiscal condition.

Ron Reeland,

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