All four of the pending lawsuits challenging the state’s pension reform law will be consolidated in downstate Sangamon County, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled.
Lawsuits from the Retired State Employee Association, the Illinois State Employee Association, the We Are One Illinois Coalition and a group of retired school teachers will now be heard as one challenge, according to the ruling. One of the groups—the retired school teachers—had filed their lawsuit in Cook County, and had argued against consolidation in a downstate jurisdiction.
The other three had all originally field in Sangamon County, which includes Springfield.
All four objections were essentially similar, each arguing the pension reform bill signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last year was unconstitutional. Each argument is based on the premise that the law violates the constitution’s provision that pension benefits may not be “diminished or impaired”. Under the plan, annual cost-of-living increases for retirees will be reduced and the retirement age for workers 45 and younger goes up.
The Associated Press has reported that Sangamon County was chosen by the three groups for a reason:
John Myers, a Springfield-based attorney who represents the Retired State Employees Association in its lawsuit filed in January, told The Associated Press he feels there could be less of a bottleneck if the cases are consolidated in central Illinois' Sangamon County versus the more populous Cook County.
"The Sangamon County Courts typically are quicker than Cook County. That's the way it is," Myers said.