PensionA Sangamon County Judge today ruled that the pension law passed and signed into law last December violates the Illinois Constitution.

The ruling by Judge John Belz was in reaction to a motion filed by the We Are One Illinois coalition and others, claiming that the Illinois Constitution’s pension clause does not permit the State to impair or diminish pension benefits under any circumstances.

The We Are One Illinois labor coalition, which includes IEA, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, AFSCME and other labor groups, issued the following statement on the ruling:

*On behalf of the We Are One Illinois coalition and its member unions that represent hundreds of thousands of active and retired teachers, state employees and university employees throughout Illinois, we are gratified by the court’s ruling today.

*Today’s ruling makes clear that the Illinois Constitution means what it says, and the pension clause is absolute. The court held today, as our unions have long argued, that the state cannot simply choose to violate the Constitution and diminish or impair retirement benefits if politicians find these commitments inconvenient to keep.

*This is, of course, a victory for teachers and police, nurses and child protection workers and all other public servants, both active and retired, who have worked hard on behalf of Illinois and its residents in every community throughout the state. They earn modest pensions and always paid their share. Today they are more secure in the knowledge that their life savings can’t be taken away from them.

*But it is just as much a victory for every Illinois resident who believes in the integrity of the Constitution, the document that guides our state government. And it is a victory for a basic principle of fairness, that public employees and retirees should not be blamed or punished for the failures of politicians, and that their dignity and security in retirement should not be jeopardized.

*We remain ready to work with anyone of good faith to develop a fair and constitutional solution to funding state pension systems.

The Illinois Attorney General, representing the State in this matter, intends to appeal the ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Download a copy of the ruling



  1. My husband and I both taught 34 years in IL and we retired in May, 2008. We thank all who have worked so hard for this win! Doug and Linda Hunter

  2. When the Supreme Court upholds that the new Pension law is unconstitutional, we will have won a major victory but then there will need to be some intensive negotiations between the two Teacher’s Unions and our legislative leaders and the new Governor to hammer out a fix to solve the mess…..there still is considerable work that needs to be done so the retired teachers can enjoy their retirement without worrying about no money left in the “kitty.”

    Plus current teachers and new teachers need to be assured of what will await them…..Winning this court case will mean we need to educate the legislators and Governor on how to fix the mess and keep it from happening again in 20 years, since there is not enough money to pay future benefits and run the State’s other programs!

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