I attended a presentation at Benedictine University yesterday. It was sponsored by the Center for Civic Leadership. Former Attorney General James Ryan (1995-2003) introduced guest speaker Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Madigan spoke about her personal experiences that led to her career and about the job description of an attorney general: she referred to herself as “legal officer of the State.” She talked about data and identity theft; she emphasized the concept of “social justice work,” and told students in attendance to “never give up hope” regarding their future. There was a brief time for queries after her speech. I stated the following comment and then asked her a question:
I presume that as the “legal officer of the State,” you will uphold the Illinois Constitution. This might entail safeguarding a contractual guarantee stated in Article XIII, Section 5, commonly known as the “Pension Clause” which states in part: Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State… shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired. There are at least a dozen antedated court cases that have upheld this assurance.
Though these guarantees are currently in conflict with legislation that was sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan and passed in the House of Representatives and Senate on December 3rd, would you be representing the public employees’ and retirees’ constitutional guarantees; if yes, please explain how you will represent the public employees and retirees in Illinois.
Elected official Madigan responded: “I will be representing the State [but not its public employees]; I cannot comment on litigation in the media.”
“Each prospective holder of a State office or other State position created by this Constitution, before taking office, shall take and subscribe to the following oath or affirmation: ‘I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of…to the best of my ability’” (The Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article XIII—Oath or Affirmation of Office, Section 3).
For an interesting revised fairy tale, read John Kass' "…[T]he peasants owe $100 billion in unfunded state pension liabilities. Don't worry, they'll pay and they'll like it…” (from The story of the political princess and the pea).