HJRCA49: There’s more than meets the eye

6 Jun

If you need a better understanding of why the constitutional amendment that will be on the November ballot is of such great danger to us, here’s a concise description of the problem(s).

Bruce C. Appleby

Borrowed from Linda Guinn and Lou Anderson @ Kankakee Community College
According to our lobbyist Dick Lockhart at the last meeting of the State SUAA Executive Committee, HJRCA49 is a Constitutional Amendment which could eventually replace the pension protection language (“shall not be diminished or impaired”) in the current Illinois Constitution. The way it works in the court system is that when later language conflicts with earlier language in the Constitution, the later language takes precedence. Paragraph d is the deadly one:
d) Nothing in this Section shall prevent the passage or adoption of any law,
ordinance, resolution, rule, policy, or practice that further restricts the
ability to provide a “benefit increase”, “emolument increase”, or “beneficial determination”as those terms are used under this Section.
The bolded words have the potential to allow future “restrictions” on or reductions in pension benefits that the existing Constitutional language would be taken to forbid. Consequently, the above language would replace the “shall not be diminished or impaired” section in actual practice. If this amendment passes in a constitutional referendum in the Fall, then future legislation could cut pensions dramatically; and we would not be able to win a lawsuit to stop the cuts based on the Illinois Constitution.
Cuts could occur for everyone: Tier I and Tier 2 and Tier 3 (if Tier 3 is put into place) for both current employees and retirees. Self Managed Plan could also be affected for current employees.
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