Illinois House Lawmakers Question Constitutionality of Rauner Reform Measure

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Lawmakers on the Illinois House Personnel and Pensions Committee are examining and scrutinizing Gov. Bruce Rauner’s pension proposal this week, and some committee members are raising concerns about whether the law is constitutional.

Many Democrats have also criticized the way the measure handles collective bargaining; under the plan, workers wouldn’t be able to use collective bargaining to negotiate pensions, vacation time or salary.

From the State Journal Register:

Democrats on the House Personnel and Pensions Committee raised questions Wednesday about whether Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new pension reform proposal is constitutional and whether it virtually eliminates collective bargaining rights.

[…]

Rauner deputy counsel Dennis Murashko said the administration believes the plan would survive a court challenge. He said the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution protects benefits but not “inputs” into determining those benefits, such as wages paid. He said workers could stay in the Tier I plan, albeit with the changes to vacation time and other alterations to the baseline.

“Our plan offers a true choice to employees in the Tier I pension plan,” Murashko said.

Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, wasn’t convinced.

“I don’t know that the court would allow us to do what the governor wants, to induce people to go into a much worse pension plan,” he said.

Zalewski noted that even lawmakers have come to recognize that the Tier II plan falls short in providing a good retirement plan for workers and have discussed the need to make changes to it.

Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Norridge, also questioned whether there was a true offer on the table.

“I’m wondering how removing benefits employees currently enjoy and then offering them back to them, how does that equate into adequate consideration?” he said.

Martwick also said the proposed changes to collective bargaining are drastic.

“It appears to me the changes suggested are not a modification of collective bargaining rights; it is almost an elimination of collective bargaining rights,” he said.

The Rauner administration says the reform package would save the state $2 billion annually.

 

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