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Illinois high court to hear Chicago pension appeal

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The Illinois Supreme Court said Thursday it will hear the city of Chicago's appeal of last month's pension ruling on an accelerated timeline.

On July 24, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rita A. Novak ruled unconstitutional a pension reform law that took effect on Jan. 1.

The law was aimed at improving the funding of Chicago's pension funds for laborers and municipal workers. Signed by then-Gov. Pat Quinn in June 2014, the law raised employee and employer contributions and reduced retiree cost-of-living adjustments for the $5.1 billion Chicago Municipal Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund and $1.4 billion Chicago Laborers' Annuity & Benefit Fund.

Active and retired city workers sued, arguing the pension benefit cuts are unconstitutional.

Oral arguments before the state Supreme Court are scheduled for November.

In May, the court unanimously ruled a state pension reform law — which reduced cost-of-living adjustments, capped pensionable salaries and raised retirement ages — violated the state's constitutional clause that pension benefits “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

Meaghan Kilroy writes for Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Business Insurance.