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Unions to file lawsuit to challenge pension overhaul Bill
The collective exhale from the state's political leaders may be short-lived, however. Even before Gov. Pat Quinn carries through with his promise to sign the Bill, unions are almost ready with a lawsuit to try to overturn it. They contend the benefit cuts are unconstitutional and unfair to employees and retirees.
Supporters hailed the Bill as a solution that would 'ensure retirement security' for current and retired state workers, public school teachers outside Chicago, university employees and state public officials. They also said it would end the squeeze on state tax dollars that increased pension costs have placed on education and social services.
The Democratic governor, who is seeking re-election next year, would not discuss whether an extension of the tax hike will be required. He did, however, take a victory lap, relishing a breakthrough after years of stalemate on the controversial but pressing issue.
"The people have won," said Quinn, who declared from his Capitol office that December 3, the 195th anniversary of Illinois' statehood, was a "great day for the taxpayers of Illinois."
But Senate President John Cullerton, whose earlier union-backed plan to curb pension spending was stymied by House Speaker Michael Madigan, said he remained concerned that the package passed by lawmakers violated a state constitutional ban on diminishing or impairing public pension benefits.
Cullerton, whose Senate Democrats had been viewed as closer to the unions than Madigan's House majority, said he viewed it important to get something before the courts to decide whether the approach was legal.