In a ruling Thursday that foreshadows a decision on the state’s pension restructuring, the Illinois Supreme Court handed a victory to state employees and retirees who were being forced to pay premiums for their health insurance. The 6-1 ruling in Kanerva vs. Weems favored those who said this constituted a reduction of benefits and is therefore unconstitutional.
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In the pension case, says Kanerva plaintiff lawyer Don Craven, “the state is taking the same position: that financial condition of the state requires that we welch on our agreement to pay pensions.” Applauding the ruling, also, is AFSCME Council 31 union spokesman Anders Lindall: “Legislators should respect the Constitution,” he said. “They should work with us to develop a fair and constitutional solution to the state’s fiscal problems. We remain ready to work in a cooperative way.” The Kanerva case goes back to a local court for further consideration.