|By Madeleine Doubek, Reboot Illinois|
While the Democrats sat mostly quietly, questions from the bench came from Thomas, Republican
If the state says it's in an emergency that was created by the state by its own under-funding of pensions over many years, what's to stop it from claiming an emergency every time it wants to opt out of a contract it doesn't want to honor, Thomas suggested toward the end of the debate?
And how can the state claim to be in a fiscal crisis when it just let expire an income tax increase, he also wondered earlier?
Are we giving the state the power to modify any contract it wants at any time if we accept your argument?
As lawmakers, some pension reform bill authors, reporters and public workers listened in the chamber, Thomas repeatedly questioned the assertions of the state's Solicitor General
Shapiro said the state was not ignoring its obligations, was not cutting earned pension benefits but reducing future benefits and suggested the state could not be expected to raise taxes every time a fiscal problem arises.
Indeed the state's status as holder of the greatest unfunded pension debt, along with the fact that is is behind another
All contracts can be altered, subject to limitations the
The Kanerva case was referenced repeatedly by both sides. In an argument over health insurance costs in Kanerva, a majority of the court argued that the pension clause of the Illinois Constitution does explicitly say pension benefits shall not be diminished or impaired and does not refer to whether funding is at the ready to meet those benefits payments.
The prevailing consensus since that ruling was released has been that the state will lose this case and the pension changes signed into law in December, 2013 will be declared invalid.
Still, the state's lawyer argued that such an emergency exists that the justices should send the case back to the circuit court for further hearings on the nature of the current fiscal crisis.
At the heart of the case argued is Senate Bill 1, which would require 1 percent less in contributions from public workers, but would also stop compounding 3 percent annual cost-of-living increases, cap pensionable salaries and raise the retirement age for younger workers while.
After the arguments,
"Working people shouldn't be punished for the failure of the politicians," he said.
Independent government fiscal watchdog Truth in Accounting has said increasing revenues to cover all
NEXT ARTICLE: 8 CRITICAL THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT
2. Why do unions fear Rauner? A few blasts from the past
4. Watch: Sounding off on the
5. Want to tell your elected officials what you think of the state of government in
(c)2015 Reboot Illinois
Visit Reboot Illinois at www.rebootillinois.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
|Source:||Tribune Content Agency|