Illinois Pension Reform Dead
The Illinois Supreme Court has blown government employee pension reform efforts out of the water, claiming it violates the state constitution. Taxpayers will continue to be on the hook for union bosses’ extravagant demands for more, more, more, that has brought the state to the point of a $111 billion underfunding of the pension system. The Wall Street Journal has the story.
The court ruled unanimously that pensions are inviolable under the plain text of the state constitution, which holds that “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.”
The law isn’t that simple, and the practical damage will be great. State pensions are underfunded by $111 billion—a 500% increase from 1995 and up 75% in the past five years. About one in four state tax dollars already finances pensions, which is more than Illinois spends on education. Yet the court accuses politicians of short-changing pensions.