Decision Could Come Today On Pension Delay

May 14, 2014

The vote in the Illinois House on the 2013 pension overhaul law.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

A hearing set for this afternoon could determine if some, or even all, of Illinois' new pension law will be suspended.

The pension law is supposed to take effect next month.

The We Are One coalition of unions wants a hold put on the entire law, until a broader lawsuit seeking to have it declared unconstitutional is resolved.

Anders Lindall is a spokesman for AFSCME, the state's largest public employees union. He says once someone retires, that can't be reversed.

"Yet they're being pressured and even forced to make those decisions despite all of the uncertainty of not knowing whether this law will be upheld, struck down or as we believe, ultimately, will be overturned," Lindall says.

Another group, the State Universities Annuitants Association, originally also wanted the same thing. But with rapidly approaching deadlines by which university and community college employees need to decide whether to retire, they instead worked out a deal with the attorney general. It would delay until 2015 multiple provisions of the pension law, including those that would otherwise have caused certain university employees to lose money unless they retire by this summer. Those fears gave rise to a recent uptick in retirements.

"They just have another year to look at, maybe, make some different arrangements, before they would have to, or feel that they have to, retire again," Linda Brookhart, director of the annuitants' association, says.

Brookhart says unfortunately, it's already too late for higher education workers who had to decide whether to retire by April 30; for others a May 15 deadline is rapidly approaching.

The We Are One request for an injunction may have a tougher time receiving judicial approval, at least immediately, because there is no agreement with the attorney general, despite reports of negotiations, but if granted it would render the attorney general's agreement with SUAA needless. Not only is the union request broader, there is also no set end date for the pension law's delay -- that would be tied to the ruling on its constitutionality.

The is set for 1:30, in Sangamon County Court.