The City of Chicago filed a brief with the state Supreme Court last week in support of the state’s pension reform law, in part because the city has its own set of pension reforms that could be impacted by the ruling.
But even a ruling overturning the state’s pension law might not affect Chicago’s own reforms, a lawyer for the city said Wednesday.
Richard Prendergast, an attorney representing Chicago, told Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Rita Novak that the 2014 law for Chicago’s municipal and laborers’ retirement systems would not automatically be voided if the state’s high court later this year determines a 2013 law enacted for Illinois’ sagging pension system is unconstitutional.
He said the state is basing its defense on the need to invoke its police powers to ensure it can fund essential state services. The city has an additional argument that its law does not unconstitutionally diminish pension benefits because without its cost-saving elements and higher contributions the two pension funds would become insolvent within a matter of years, he explained.
“The one thing that is not contested here is these two pension funds are in the toilet,” Prendergast said at a court hearing on the unions’ request for a preliminary injunction to stop the Chicago pension law.
Chicago’s reforms mandate higher pension contributions from workers and the city, as well as reduced COLAs.
Two lawsuits have been filed challenging the constitutionality of those reforms.
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