What will state lawmakers do if the new pension law is struck down in court?
Doing nothing is not an option, says State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), one of the architects of the law. He says lawmakers will have to try again, and if the Supreme Court says all or part of the law is unconstitutional, some advice will be found in their opinion.
“There will be instructions, ‘this is constitutional,’ there will be instructions maybe, ‘this isn’t constitutional,’ and hopefully there’ll be instructions, ‘and here’s why.’ And I think we’re gonna have to use those instructions as a road map to figure out what will pass muster,” he said.
Biss says he believes the law will stand, though he recognizes it’s a gray area.
The questions are whether the state can take any pension benefit away from anybody, or whether retirees are protected differently from current workers, and whether the annual raises are protected the way the core benefit is.
Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, believes the law is constitutional because it doesn’t change the core benefits of pension plan members. It changes the way increases are calculated.
“If the Supreme Court says you cannot change anything to do with the future growth of pension benefits, then I think you run into a constitutional crisis that will require action on the Constitution,” he said.