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Pension Fight Won't End Regardless Of High Court Ruling

Union members and state employees can expect another pension battle ahead, regardless of what the Illinois Supreme Court says about the the current law meant to stem the tide on pension expenses.

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner says he'll push forward with his pension fix no matter how the seven justices rule on the 2013 legislation that was passed and signed into law before being put on hold by litigation.

The state's highest court heard oral arguments last week on the package, which reduces benefits for both retirees and current workers. Projections are that it'll save the state $137 billion over the next few decades.

Rauner says even if -- and that's a big if -- the court upholds the law, more needs to be done.

"Even if the Supreme Court says the old pension change is fine,” the governor said, “it doesn't fix enough of the problem."

Rauner says he doesn't like that the current law slices retirees' benefits.

"Our plan saves far more money and is more reasonable,” the governor said, “and, frankly, if we did both, that'd be even better for taxpayers. But I believe ours is more reasonable, more fair."

Rauner's vision doesn't affect workers who already have retired. His proposal affects only state workers, teachers and university professors who are still working. Under Rauner's idea, they'd either earn smaller pensions going forward, or take a lump sum payout they could use to start a 401(k) style plan.

There's no telling when the Illinois Supreme Court will make a decision on the current law's constitutionality.

  • Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinickly contributed to this story.

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