Expedited Pension Hearing
- The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to quickly consider an appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down pension fund changes Mayor Rahm Emanuel engineered to lower taxpayer costs but also hit current and retired city workers in the pocketbook.
In a brief order, the court agreed to a sped-up briefing cycle that would lead to oral arguments in November — a schedule city attorneys hope leads to a final decision before the year is out.
Last month, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rita Novak overturned a 2014 state law that reduced cost-of-living benefit increases for retired city workers and laborers and increased contributions by current employees. Those changes were coupled with increases in taxpayer payments to the pension funds.
Novak based her decision on a unanimous state Supreme Court ruling in May on a similar pension case. The court struck down a law changing state pensions, saying the Illinois Constitution's protection against "diminished or impaired" pension benefits for public workers and current retirees was absolute. Novak concluded that ruling provided "crystal-clear direction" in the city pension case.
Although union representatives and lawyers for retired workers have urged the city to drop the appeal, Emanuel has defended it, saying city pension changes "will stand the test of time."
Besides, it isn't like Rahm is spending his own money - he's spending the money that might have been used to actually help pay the total owed to pensioners - past and future.