* This move by Senate President John Cullerton would most certainly take away a fig leaf used by some recalcitrant Republicans…
Cullerton said he is open to a GOP demand to include judges in his plan to solve Illinois’ $95 billion pension crisis — a bill he said he hopes to have the Senate vote on by late February.
In every pension-reform plan that’s surfaced thus far, the 984 members of the Judges Retirement System of Illinois have been left out because of a constitutional protection against having their salaries be “diminished” and worries judges would block a pension deal on legal grounds. […]
The determining factor in whether to include judges in a pension package, Cullerton said, is whether “I pick up votes or lose votes” by adding the provision.
A spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said that addition has been one of her boss’ demands in a pension deal.
“To somehow not include judges because you think they might rule more favorably [on a broad pension package], that’s just ludicrous,” said Patty Schuh, a spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont).
“Sen. Radogno has long believed [a pension package] ought to be comprehensive and include all five systems because this may be the only opportunity we get to do pension reform,” Schuh said.
* From the Constitution…
Judges shall receive salaries provided by law which shall not be diminished to take effect during their terms of office.
The judiciary ruled during the Blagovjevich years that scheduled salary COLAs were covered by that constitutional provision, so including them in the pension bill is just asking for trouble.
But, if it’s severable and it attracts some votes, then by all means go for it. This is just an excuse by some people to avoid voting on a bill. So, take the excuse away if doing so attracts more net “Yes” votes.
Also, Radogno supported a pension bill last year which included neither the judges nor the teachers.