Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution states: “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the state or any local government, or any agency or instrumentality of either, shall be an enforceable, contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”
Helen Kinney and Henry Green were the delegates who jointly “sponsored the pension clause proposal as an amendment to the proposed Legislative Article” at the 1970 Illinois Constitution.
“The drafters intended to provide constitutional protection to the pension benefit rights in place when an employee started employment and became a member of a pension system. The Pension Clause serves as a bar against any unilateral legislative or governmental action to reduce or eliminate the pension benefit rights in place when an employee became a member of a pension system” (Eric M. Madiar, Chief Legal Counsel to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and Parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate, IS WELCHING ON PUBLIC PENSION PROMISES AN OPTION FOR ILLINOIS? AN ANALYSIS OF ARTICLE XIII, SECTION 5 OF THE ILLINOIS CONSTITUTION).
To let the courts decide again is a reckless disregard of a senator’s and representative’s duty to uphold the State of Illinois and the United States Constitutions. Besides the datum that a State cannot pass any law “impairing the obligations of contracts” (Article I, Section 10, of the Constitution of the United States), “[any] attempt to denigrate the validity of decades of judicial precedents about the binding nature of legislation establishing pension commitments to government employees and to motivate state courts to overturn long-settled premises about these commitments would impose its own, unjustifiable costs.
“The State [of Illinois] and [its] instrumentalities have promised pension benefits to [its public] employees; those employees have relied on those long-standing promises; and as a result the citizens of the State have benefited from the services provided by those employees” (Greenfield, Douglas L., Lahne, Susan G. (2012). How Much Can States Change existing Retirement Policy? In Defense of State Judicial Decisions Protecting Public Employees’ Pensions. National Council of State Legislatures Legislative Summit).
1998 People ex. Rel. Sklodowski v. State
2015 Public Employees, Appellees v. Governor Pat Quinn, State of Illinois, et al., Appellants
[Opinion filed May 8, 2015: "Justice Karmeier delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, Burke and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion... The judgment of the circuit court declaring Public Act 98-599 to be unconstitutional and permanently enjoining its enforcement is affirmed."]
Sources: 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
Please also review these posts, click here: lllinois Pension Reform Is Without Legal and Moral Justification and 12 pragmatic reasons to reject Illinois pension reform.