Public-employee unions claim victory as judge rules Illinois pension fix unconstitutional

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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois — A coalition of labor unions says a judge's ruling that the state's pension overhaul is unconstitutional is "a victory for every Illinois resident who believes in the integrity of the Constitution."

The We Are One Illinois coalition issued a statement Friday, after Sangamon County Judge John Belz ruled in favor of state employees and retirees who sued to block the pension fix.

The state is expected to appeal directly to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Illinois has the worst-funded state pension systems in the U.S., with a roughly $100 billion shortfall.

Lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn approved the overhaul last year. It reduces benefits for retirees, but also reduces employee contributions.

The lawsuit argued the Constitution prohibits reducing benefits.

The state argued pensions can be modified in times of crisis.

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