Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune
August 15, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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Illinois public employees who think the state constitution guarantees that they’ll get all their pension benefits may have another think coming.

Politicians’ and public labor unions’ assurances aside, there’s another, not-well-publicized school of thought that says if the pension funds go bust, the state has no obligation to step in to pay the benefits. This runs contrary to the popular view that the Illinois Constitution, on its face, guarantees that all public employee pension benefits will be fully paid.

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This belief is based on Article 13, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution: “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the state, any unit of local government or school district … shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

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