Thursday, July 10, 2014

Kanerva v. Weems: A Similar Supreme Court Decision Was Made in Hawaii Four Years Ago

There are seven states that have their legal basis for protection of public pension rights under state laws in their state constitution: Illinois, New York, Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, Louisiana, and Hawaii.


No. 29359. Decided: March 25, 2010

“…Inasmuch as we hold that health benefits for retired State and County employees are ‘accrued benefits’ under article XVI, section 2 of the Hawai‘i Constitution, such benefits would fall within the scope of such protection and cannot be abrogated by statute. Hence, the accrual of such benefits cannot be diminished or impaired by HRS § 87A-23(1) and (3). Because such benefits cannot be diminished, that array of health plan services most advantageous to the employee during his or her service must be deemed the ‘accrued benefits’ under article XVI, section 2; otherwise ‘diminishment or impairment’ of accrued benefits would result.”

Opinion of the Court by NAKAYAMA,J.

I have written often that the keeping of promises, or honoring contractual obligations, is the General Assembly’s legal duty. It is something the Illinois and United States Constitutions require them to do whether they want to or not. Unfortunately, we see that in Illinois, many legislators (and wealthy business members who write editorials) are willing to act without moral or ethical principles.

It is a moral concern and legal duty for Illinois legislators to reform the state's sources of revenue and to address the incurred pension debt through restructuring so the state can provide services for its citizens and fund the public pension systems instead of incriminating retirees and public employees, and thereby forcing them to defend the State and United States Constitutions.   

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