News Local/State

Illinois’ New Pension Law: Examining The Legal Process


Several state employee unions are expected to file a lawsuit contesting Illinois' new pension measure.

A University of Illinois law professor says that action will start a process that could last as long as two years. 

John Colombo said any decisions will ultimately come from the state’s Supreme Court, but the process has to start in circuit court.

He expects unions to seek an injunction that would keep the reform plan from taking effect while the legal process plays out.

Colombo said a circuit court may or may not grant the injunction, but says it would be hard to reverse a pension plan once it’s already in effect.

“What happens to people who retire during the time the injunction is in place.," he said.  "Presumably, they’re under the old rules.  Well, what if the law is upheld?  Then do we put them back under the law’s rules?  And how do we unwind those two years of payments to them?  There are sort of these practical problems both ways.”

Colombo said there are a variety of possible outcomes coming from the state’s high court.  He says the pension plan could be upheld in its entirety, struck down altogether, or the court could uphold only portions of the bill.  

UPDATE:  A correction to this interview segment.  Colombo said he misspoke, and clarified his comments Wednesday (Dec 11.)  He said while many retirees aren’t part of a union., including former U of I Urbana campus professors, some unions in the state do represent retirees.