* Yesterday’s dismissal of lawsuits which attempted to link free retiree health insurance premiums to the state Constitution’s pension benefits protection clause prompted this reaction from Senate President John Cullerton…
“The real impact of this ruling is that it reinforces my position that a guarantee of health care access can be negotiated as part of a contractual change to protected pension benefits. Only the benefits found in the Illinois Pension Code are protected by the Pension Clause.
“Pension reform is my top priority. While I acknowledge that there are a number of ways to structure a bill, I believe that a reform based on contractual principles of offer, consideration and acceptance is the best way to ensure that the legislation is upheld in court. I will continue to advocate that giving state employees and retirees a choice between cost of living allowances and access to health care is the best way forward”.
Since insurance is not a guaranteed right, then he can now argue that he’s offering retirees a real choice: Keep your COLA or keep your access to insurance.