A former lobbyist for an Illinois teachers union has lost his battle to retain an enhanced pension benefit obtained through a 2007 law that allowed him to count past years as a union employee toward a teacher pension.
Sangamon County Judge Ryan Cadagin this week determined the provision in the law that benefited retired Illinois Federation of Teachers lobbyist David Piccioli represented “unconstitutional special legislation.”
The legislation allowed union officials to get into the teacher pension fund and count previous years as union workers if they obtained teaching certificates. They had to do classroom work before the legislation was signed into law. Piccioli substitute taught for one day.
Cadagin noted the law contained a cutoff date that only allowed the benefit window to union employees who had become certified and done teaching service before the 2007 law took effect.
A retired Springfield lobbyist for the Illinois Federation of Teachers said Thursday he may appeal a Sangamon County Circuit Court ruling that struck down a 2007 law that allowed him to purchase back credit in the teachers’ pension system for his union work if he was a substitute teacher for at least a day.
“I joined the system legally,” said David Piccioli, 67, who retired at the end of 2012. “I obeyed all the laws. I had no hand in passing any of these laws. … I paid all the contributions.”
Circuit Judge Ryan Cadagin ruled this week that the 2007 law was unconstitutional special legislation, because it contained a cut-off date that only allowed the benefit window to union employees who had become certified and done teaching service before the 2007 law took effect. Piccioli said he did get certified and taught for a day, probably in early 2007. […]
“It’s unconstitutional for the General Assembly to take away vested pension benefits,” said Springfield attorney Carl Draper, who represents Piccioli. “What we are disappointed in,” he said, is that Cadagin “never even ruled on the underlying claim” about taking away a benefit that had been granted. […]
Draper said legal options are to ask Cadagin to reconsider his ruling, or appeal directly to the Illinois Supreme Court because the case involves a law being found unconstitutional.
More background on this case is here.