* From a press release…
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled today that health care benefits for retired state and university employees are protected by the pension clause of the state constitution and cannot be diminished or impaired.
The Supreme Court ruled that a lower court was wrong to dismiss the four consolidated lawsuits (one supported by AFSCME, IFT, INA and FOP) which argued that SB 1313 was unconstitutional. That legislation had effectively allowed the state to diminish health care benefits for retirees by imposing new and higher health insurance premiums.
The Supreme Court sent the case back to the circuit court for further proceedings.
AFSCME is very pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed with us that affordable health care in retirement, a promise made to tens of thousands of Illinois public servants in exchange for their service, is protected by the constitution.
“The Supreme Court ruled today that men and women who work to provide essential public services — protecting children from abuse, keeping criminals locked up, caring for the most vulnerable and more — can count on the Illinois Constitution to mean what it says,” AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer said. “Retirement security, including affordable health care and a modest pension, cannot be revoked by politicians.
“Unions representing public employees and retirees have stood virtually alone against political and corporate-funded attacks on retirement security,” Bayer added. “Time and again we have urged legislators to respect the constitution they are sworn to uphold, and to work together with us to develop fair and constitutional solutions to the state’s very real fiscal challenges. We remain ready to work in good faith with anyone to do so.”