FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2015

 

SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the Illinois Supreme Court's decision, handed down today, that a 2013 measure reducing retirement benefits for teachers and state workers is unconstitutional and will not take effect:

 Today, the state's highest court affirmed that, as in all matters, we are bound by the plain language of the Illinois Constitution on the question of public employee benefits. This is not surprising news, nor is it an unwelcome reminder; constitutional limits protect us all – especially in times of fiscal crisis. The Court effectively illustrated the cyclical nature of economic fortunes, noting that Illinois faced a pension funding emergency at the time our current constitution was drafted. The rule of law remains a guiding constant.

This decision is a call to go back to the negotiating table and get serious about the range of options available to us to repair the state's finances and meet its obligations in ways consistent with the constitution, sustainable for the future and fair to all concerned.

A number of approaches remain open to us, but the Court has made clear that the constitution's prohibition on unilateral modifications applies to the lifetime of the contract made at the time of employment, not merely to benefits already accrued.

We return to our task aided by the insights of the Court, fully aware of our constitutional responsibilities as well as the severity of our fiscal condition, in partnership with all affected and open to new ideas.

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