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Court Challenge Ahead
Thu December 5, 2013
Pension Overhaul Signed Into Law
A major overhaul of Illinois' pensions is now law. Gov. Pat Quinn held a private bill-signing ceremony this afternoon in Chicago. A court challenge seeking to stop it from taking effect is certain.
The new law will cut state workers' and public school teachers' retirement benefits.
It also raises the retirement age; employees younger than 46 will have to work up to five years longer before they can retire. The savings from those changes are intended to rid Illinois of a long-festering budget issue: an unfunded pension liability that's grown to about $100 billion.
On Tuesday, after the General Assembly narrowly approved the measure during a special, one-day session, Gov. Quinn said it will "move our state forward. We have many things to do, but we had to do this."
The weight of Illinois' pension debt has meant there's less money for schools, health care and other public services.
Although the pension package is now officially law, it doesn't take effect until June.
And maybe not even then.
Unions representing public workers say their attorneys are preparing a lawsuit. In a statement, the unions' We are One coalition calls the law attempted pension theft that defies the state constitution.