20. The Reasons for the State’s “Fiscal Troubles,” “Cuts to Important Programs,” “Unfunded Actuarially Accrued Liabilities of Approximately $100 Billion” and Increases in State Contributions that House Speaker Madigan Did Not Acknowledge: Since 1953, Illinois policymakers have consistently failed to make the annual required contributions to the state’s pension systems, primarily because they could then pay for services and their “pet projects” without raising taxes; moreover, they created a flawed re-funding schedule ("Pension Ramp" Public Act 88-0593 in 1995), and they have refused to correctly re-amortize the pension systems’ unfunded liabilities (link: Illinois Senate Bill 1, the Preamble: Madigan’s [and on May 15th the Attorney General's] Attempt to Justify the Diminishment of a Constitutional Contract through Eminent Domain Powers).
21. “Pension benefits are under siege for two reasons: opportunity and political motives… [Legislators] frame [the] larger discussion of whether the law provides states with a means to achieve a particular objective: the unilateral reduction of public pension benefits to avoid painful tax increases, service cuts, or both… For decades, states have treated pension systems as a credit card to pay for government services and avoid tax increases or service cuts…” (Eric M. Madiar, Chief Legal Counsel to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and Parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate (2012), Public Pension Benefits under Siege: Does State Law Facilitate or Block Recent Efforts to Cut the Pension Benefits of Public Servants?).
22. “The Pension Clause’s plain language reveals that an employee’s contractual rights exist and are legally secured at the time of membership, and those rights cannot be unilaterally reduced or voided thereafter. Nowhere does the Pension Clause limit protection… to only ‘benefits that were previously earned.’ To reach [another] conclusion, the provision would need to add the word ‘earned’ or ‘accrued’ before the word ‘benefits’…” (Madiar (2011), Is Welching on Public Pension Promises an Option for Illinois? An Analysis of Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution) (link: A Trifecta of Political Opportunists).
23. “A plain language reading of the Pension Clause’s text makes clear that governmental entities may not reduce or eliminate a public employee’s pension payments and other membership entitlements once the employee becomes a pension system member. At the same time, the plain language also indicates that an employee’s pension payments and other membership entitlements are ‘contractual’ rights that may be presumably altered through mutual assent via contract principles. [Note: the Cullerton and Coalition agreement did not have approbation of thousands of retirees and non-union members]. Further, the Clause’s prohibitory language against the diminishment or impairment of pension benefits is cast in absolute terms and lacks any exceptions…” (Madiar (2011), Is Welching on Public Pension Promises an Option for Illinois? An Analysis of Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution) (link: Illinois Pension Clause’s Convention Debates, Text and Historical Background).
24. “Illinois courts have concluded that the Pension Clause affords legislature no police reserved power” to impair a constitutional guarantee (Madiar (2011), Is Welching on Public Pension Promises an Option for Illinois? An Analysis of Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution) (link: What happens if the Illinois public pension funds are “on the verge of bankruptcy?”).
25. “One might assume the government of Illinois would not want to prove that its promises are worthless, especially when the most basic purposes of the impairment [of the contract] clause [Article XIII, Section 5] as well as notions of fairness that transcend the clause itself, point to a simple constitutional principle: government must keep its word” (Laurence H. Tribe, American Constitutional Law) (link: A Discussion We Do Not Want to Have).
26. What is at stake right now is not a potential adjudication of claims that public employees will have against policymakers who want changes to retirees’ and public employees’ earned compensation and rights, but to respect the retirees’ and public employees’ contractual and constitutional promises because they are legitimate rights and moral concerns not only for public employees, but for every citizen in Illinois: for any unwarranted acts of stealing a person’s guaranteed rights and earned compensation will violate interests in morality and ethics and the basic principles of both the State and United States Constitutions that protect every one of us (link: Illinois Pension Reform Is Without Legal and Moral Justification).
27. Many legislators of the Illinois General Assembly are controlling the focus and conversation regarding the state's pension debt, while ignoring the causes of the state's budget deficits. No matter what pension reform bill is passed, it will never be enough to address the serious underlying problems that exist. These legislators will attack public employees' pensions again because they were able to make retirees and public employees the scapegoats for the problems they have caused. Public employees across the country are also victims for much greater problems… (link: Why Any Illinois "Pension Reform" Is a Devious Ruse).
28. Illinois legislators ignore the fact that the state “suffers from structural deficits or from failure of revenues to grow quickly as the cost of services…, [and that] structural deficits stem largely from out-of-date tax systems, coupled with costs that rise faster than the economy… Fixing these structural problems would help [Illinois] balance [its] operating budgets without resorting to [a reckless and radical “pension reform” instigated and propagandized by the Civic Committee, Civic Federation, Chicago Tribune and the legislators they influence]” (The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) (link: Understanding Illinois’ Budget Deficit and Solutions).