Illinois Supreme Court tosses law aimed at stopping union boss pension abuses

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When Illinois lawmakers found out seven years ago that major labor leaders were significantly pumping up their taxpayer-funded pensions by basing them on their larger union salaries, state officials swiftly approved a law to rein in the windfalls.

Union executives cried foul, however, saying the changes spurred by a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV investigation were an overreach. And after a lengthy legal battle, the Illinois Supreme Court has sided with the unions, ruling the changes unconstitutional and striking a blow to lawmakers’ reform efforts.

The court’s unanimous ruling last week that once again illustrated how difficult it is to cut back public pensions. Justices cited a provision in the Illinois Constitution stating that pension benefits, once granted, “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the court has turned to that same provision to throw out major efforts by both state government and City Hall to reduce pension costs in recent years.

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November 30, 2018 at 05:51PM

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