“While we appreciate Senator Cullerton’s good faith efforts to find a solution, we fully believe the changes in his legislation are clearly unconstitutional. The legislation may be less draconian than [Madigan’s Senate Bill 1 in] the House of Representatives, but it still fails the test of constitutionality.
“The authors of the Illinois Constitution were unequivocal in their purpose for drafting and enacting the ‘Pension Clause’ to the 1970 rule of law. Repeatedly, delegates including amendment sponsor Henry Green cited the failure of previous General Assemblies to honor the spirit as well as the letter of the laws regulating public worker pensions.
“If our organization sits back without a fight and allows changes to the spirit of our state’s laws governing enforceable contracts, then no agreement will ever again be safe from arbitrary dissolution under the law.
“Each and every public worker who now receives retirement benefits left public service with their employer’s promise that their pension was sacred. No choice written into any pending proposal guarantees pension benefits as enforceable contracts.
“It is with regret that the Illinois Retired Teachers Association must oppose this bill. To do otherwise would represent a violation of our principles that embrace contracts as enforceable promises.”
The IRTA last year launched a legal defense fund to challenge enactment of pension legislation believed to be unconstitutional. Earlier this year Gino DiVito, a former appellate court justice and founding partner of the Chicago firm of Tabet DiVito and Rothstein, issued a legal opinion to the IRTA that declared unconstitutional proposals similar to Senator Cullerton’s.
The aforementioned is from an IRTA press release
Excerpts from Tabet, DiVito and Rothstein’s legal opinion.
from a letter written by an IRTA legislative rep: