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Reeder: Pension Ruling Puts Illinois in a Bind

Illinois capitol

Last month, a circuit court struck down Illinois’ pension reform law, deeming it unconstitutional.

Scott Reeder, a journalist who has covered politics across the country for 25 years, wrote about what could happen if the Supreme Court upholds the circuit court’s ruling in his column in the Journal Standard:

Belz’s ruling sets the stage for the crisis to deepen.

While government worker unions were touting the ruling as a victory, it’s actually sowing despair for many current employees and sets the stage for generational warfare.

If the high court upholds this ruling, tax dollars that would be go to support schools, prisons and other state services will be diverted to fund pensions.

Look for teachers, prison guards and other state workers to receive pink slips to free up money for increased pension payments.

Who else but government workers routinely retire in their 50s, have guaranteed cost of living adjustments and pensions guaranteed to grow until the day they die?

Not most of us in the private sector, that’s for sure.

Things won’t be pretty during the 2015 legislative session, which begins in January.

Don’t be surprised if deep cuts are made in state spending, less money flows to schools and more government workers head toward the unemployment line.

And things could get worse when summer comes. That’s when the labor contract with the largest state workers’ union expires.

One should expect Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner to demand wage concessions.

It’s simple math.

With more money going to pensions, less will be available for wages and other benefits.

Of course, the Illinois Supreme Court could rule that the crisis is so extreme that the state’s emergency powers allow it to reshape pensions on their own.

Just how severe is the crisis?

If all of state government were to shut down and its entire operating budget were diverted to fund pensions, Illinois pensions would still be in the hole three years from now.

Now, that’s a crisis.

Read the entire piece here.

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