Pension Decision May Be Appealed to Federal Supreme Court

An Illinois Supreme Court decision in early May struck down the 2013 “pension reform” bill, SB 1, and ordered Illinois government officials and taxpayers to cover the entire unfunded costs of pension benefits promised to many Illinois workers in the public sector. These unfunded costs are estimated to exceed $100 billion, and the burden of meeting these costs is one of the elements in the FY16 budget crisis.

The Illinois Supreme Court’s decision was an interpretation of legal language within the Constitution of 1970 that granted explicit contractual protection to pension benefits. While the constitutional interpretation of each state’s constitution is traditionally a subject for the sole jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of that state, some legal scholars believe that the urgency of this issue could grant the Attorney General standing to appeal the 2015 decision to the federal Supreme Court. The Attorney General is in the process of filing a paper asking for additional time to study the issue and possibly file this appeal. Lisa Madigan’s action was described by “Crain’s Chicago Business” on Tuesday, July 28.