The lawsuit over the state’s pension restructuring law proceeds to a hearing this week. The law, enacted last year, raises the retirement age and limits the increases that retirees receive in their annual benefits. The unions representing teachers and state workers are suing, claiming the law in unconstitutional. The hearing, set for Thursday afternoon in Springfield, is on a plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment – meaning the unions suing the state claim that based on the law and the undisputed facts, they’re entitled to a ruling in their favor without a trial.
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Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who is defending the law, says this is a case that is likely to end up before the Supreme Court on matters of law and constitutionality. “What the court is going to be ultimately looking at is, were the changes made through the pension legislation – were they reasonable and were they necessary under the circumstances? That’s what it all revolves around. It’s really a contractual analysis that’s going to be made,” she said, speaking about the case in general, not specifically the motion to be heard Thursday. The plaintiffs are relying on constitutional language that pension benefits are contractual and may not be diminished or impaired. The state enacted the law in response to an unfunded pension liability of $100 billion, much of which was the result of the state’s failure to make employer contributions over the years.