Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Are taxpayers legally bound to pay pensions for public employees?

Not in Illinois:

Link HT: Steve Bartin
The opinion acknowledges that the constitution creates a contractual agreement between the workers and the state's employee pension funds. But it concludes that neither the constitution nor the law say the state is a guarantor of that obligation.
The Sidley opinion argued that the state can become a guarantor only under section 2l2-403 of the Illinois Pension Code. That provision states that if a state pension fund runs out of assets "(a)ny pension payable under any law . . . shall not be construed to be a legal obligation or debt of the State . . . but shall be held to be solely an obligation of such pension fund, unless otherwise specifically provided in the law creating such fund."
So, does any law creating the pension funds "specifically provide" that the state would become the guarantor? Sidley examined the laws creating the five state pension funds and concluded that while each contains an "obligation of state" provision, none guarantees that the state will step in and pay the funds if they run out of money.