Two more groups of retired government workers have sued to block a law that cuts pension benefits for Illinois state employees. That brings the total number of lawsuits to three ... with at least one more still expected. The latest cases were filed by groups that collectively represent about 16,000 retired state workers. One, the Retired State Employees Association, argues the pension overhaul signed into law last month violates the Illinois Constitution, which says government pension benefits cannot be "diminished." When he signed the law, Governor Pat Quinn asserted there would be no reductions in pension checks going out to current retirees. Association attorney John Myers, however, sees it differently:
"They're not reducing the checks that the retirees are going to get next week, but they're reducing future checks."
The overhaul puts significant limits on what until now had been automatic, three-percent annual increases in pension payments.
The lawsuit says past governors and legislatures basically used the pension funds as "lenders of last resort," diverting money to plug holes in the state budget -- all while employees paid their share out of every paycheck.
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