Wednesday, January 14, 2015

About Those So-called Emergency Police Powers Again

“…[Lisa Madigan and her] lawyers for the state argued that the government's so-called emergency police powers — the ability to take action to ensure the functions of government — trump the protections of the pension clause.  

“State lawyers said the ability to fund necessary government services, as well as to continue paying out pensions, has been severely hampered by paying an increasing amount of the state's checking account to fund the pension systems.

“…In the latest legal filing, the state argued that the Great Recession ‘wreaked havoc with the state's finances’ and created $43 billion of the state's unfunded pension liability… It [is] argued that increased longevity has added an additional $9 billion in liabilities…” (The Chicago Tribune, January 13, 2015).  


Lisa Madigan and other politicians of the State of Illinois are declaring a financial emergency and using their preferred scapegoats—the state’s vulnerable public employees and retirees—to solve the state's self-inflicted fiscal problems. This is assumed to be a “relief afforded by the 'Act' [SB 1 and] commensurate with the [so-called declared] emergency,” though it is without “a rational compromise between individual rights and public welfare” (Fliter and Hoff, Fighting Foreclosure: The Blaisdell Case, the Contract Clause, and the Great Depression).

There is no threat to the “public’s safety, health, and morals as well as peace, well-being and order of the state”; nor is the State of Illinois dealing with an economic emergency of such magnitude that the state’s politicians are compelled to invoke such powers “to protect the state's citizens and serve a reasonable public purpose or need.” 

Politicians who are attempting to subvert the Illinois Constitution, such as Lisa Madigan and other pension thieves, prefer to blame investment losses as well as the precarious longevity of some public employees for the state’s financial troubles. 

Had the state’s politicians not siphoned off public pension assets (by not fully contributing to the systems for decades), the five public pension systems would be nearly funded and would have withstood the financial crisis of 2008-09. 

Lisa Madigan and other self-interested pension thieves insist on cutting pensions as their final solution, instead of considering more comprehensive, legal and ethical strategies for addressing the unfunded liabilities they had created. Shifting future costs to public employees has been their immoral modus operandi for a very long time. 

Thus, nothing has been done about the flawed “Pension Ramp” of 1995. Nothing has been done about the antiquated, flawed tax structure; though, ironically, the state’s politicians allowed the state's needed income taxes to expire while perpetuating continuous theft of public employees’ constitutional rights and benefits.

Our unions must fully utilized all of their resources to address and resist policy changes that perpetuate scapegoating and theft. What also needs to be created is an organized counter campaign to stop rapacious business interests for public employees' pensions. The Big-Boy Money Players (The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, Civic Federation, Illinois Policy Institute, et al.) are submitting their amicus briefs: 

Lawyers from Mayer Brown LLD state: “Police Powers are an inherent attribute of state government that may not constitutionally be alienated… A state may not constitutionally alienate its core Police Powers, and certainly not without a clear statement of intent to do so… Although [the] Court ultimately decides what the constitution means, deference is due to the views of coordinate legislative and executive branches of government that the pension reform act is constitutional… A principle of liberal construction in favor of pensioners does not overcome the right and obligation of the state to exercise Police Power to address a fiscal emergency…”

For additional information regarding the Contract Clause and the State of Illinois’ “reserved sovereign powers” in Senate Bill 1, please click here.

For Special Matters before the Illinois Supreme Court/ (Case No. 118585 - In re Pension Reform Litigation): Click Here.

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