Quinn: No Pension ‘Plan B’ Before Court Ruling
Amid signals that Illinois' pension overhaul could be found unconstitutional, Gov. Pat Quinn argued Friday that it makes no sense to develop a contingency plan.
The Chicago Democrat, who "fervently'' believes the plan is constitutional, said in an Associated Press interview that he'd like to get feedback from the courts before proceeding despite Illinois' urgent financial difficulties.
"You don't exactly help your position before the court if you say, `Well I've got a plan b out here, maybe you could take that instead,' and it's not even passed by the Legislature,'' Quinn said. "That's a very bad strategic position ...''
Quinn's comments come as he faces a tough re-election challenge from Republican businessman Bruce Rauner. He opposes the law Quinn signed in 2013.
After years of debate, lawmakers approved a plan that cuts benefits for most employees and retirees aimed reducing the state's massive unfunded liability. Unions sued over the law, saying it violates the Illinois Constitution.
But in a separate case on retiree health care, the Illinois Supreme Court in July ruled a law requiring retirees to pay more for health insurance was unconstitutional. The decision centered on the constitution's strong protections for retirement benefits.
Illinois' $100 billion shortfall in funding employee retirement benefits is considered the worst pension crisis nationwide. For years, Illinois lawmakers and governors skipped or shorted payments to their state's five pension systems.
Rauner, of Winnetka, has proposed freezing the current pension accounts and moving employees to a 401 (k)-style retirement system.