Wednesday, June 13, 2012

15 Questions about Pension Reform and the Upcoming Born-Again Contract Clause from the Illinois General Assembly

Shouldn’t the state government sanction vested rights guaranteed in a contract? Can the state government pass an amendment to impair an original agreement? In other words, is it ethical and legal to limit public employees’ contractual benefits and rights both prospectively and retroactively without attempting other recourses? 

Is HJRCA 49 an abrogation of contractual rights (and a violation of Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution) for public employees who have worked, expected and planned for statutorily-promised government pension benefits? Is it not crucial for legislators to protect “legitimate expectations,” especially for people (like public employees) who must be defended against those with extreme economic clout and inequitable schemes that pass prejudicial state legislation?

Is it just for a state government that has been morally bankrupt for several decades to ignore the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?  Are we to believe Due Process and Equal Protection of the laws guarantee contractual privileges?  Are we to believe legal and moral sense dictate that any bill proposed by the state should align with the U.S. Constitution?

What credibility do current Illinois legislators have when they can breach contractual obligations through a constitutional amendment when it was the legislators’ failure to fund the public pension systems for decades? Isn’t this a denial of due process of law under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? How can any legislator believe SB 1673 and HJRCA 49 will not be a diminishment or an impairment of current and retired teachers' earned and promised benefits?

How can a state government that has created a severe unfunded liability for the public employees’ retirement systems continue to isolate and offer up one particular group of people for sacrifice and dispossession because of bond agencies, the partiality of an unethical political process, and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago?

Is it fair that there are special exceptions and rules for the wealthy, but there are intentionally-limiting laws for public employees?  Are the public employees of Illinois going to allow today’s General Assembly to change the rules of the contract to benefit themselves and the wealthy? Furthermore, will it mean that any legislature can and will change the rules at whim, and that any contract of the State of Illinois is worthless when policymakers are the debtors?

Please read “Illinois Pension Reform, Senate Bill 1673, Is without Legal and Moral Justification”
and previous five posts about HJRCA 49.

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