The Sosnowski amendment as of today does not have any co-sponsors and, since Joe Sosnowski is a Republican, his caucus lacks the constitutional three-fifths vote for this proposal to pass even the House. I also (at this time) do not believe Speaker Madigan would even consider supporting this proposal because even he could not get enough votes for this proposal to pass.
The greatest threat to Article XIII, Section 5 is likely to be a revisionist interpretation of the section by Illinois Courts in the situation of a default. Each of the separate pension funds has a different projected collapse date; one of the first to go will be the pension fund for members of the Illinois General Assembly itself. If it comes to the point of default, that body could determine not to fully honor its own pensions, and any former member who is a recipient could litigate to defend his or her payments. At that point, the Courts would have to determine whether or not to issue a direct order to the General Assembly and Governor to fully honor the pensions.
Currently, all bills seriously being considered in the General Assembly try to play with the language of the Constitution to reduce the overall pension debt. Most unions in the We are One coalition believe these proposals as currently drafted are unconstitutional and have stated they will litigate if the bills pass. I suspect in the abstract the Courts will agree with the unions and strike down the bills if it comes to that, and I think Speaker Madigan believes so too. This is why he is pressuring the unions to support a grand pension reform plan…
“As noted, that provision bars the diminishment of judicial salaries just as the Clause prohibits the diminishment of pension benefit rights. Accordingly, the Supreme Court would most likely grant pension participants the same relief provided in Jorgenson by compelling the Comptroller to pay the needed funds from the State General Revenue Fund, especially since the State Pension Funds Continuing Appropriation Act requires automatic appropriations be made from the Fund to the five State pension systems…” (IS WELCHING ON PUBLIC PENSION PROMISES AN OPTION FOR ILLINOIS?
AN ANALYSIS OF ARTICLE XIII, SECTION 5 OF THE ILLINOIS CONSTITUTION by Eric M. Madiar, Chief Legal Counsel to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and Parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate).