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Peo. Ex Rel. I.f.t. v. Lindberg

OPINION FILED MARCH 24, 1975.

THE PEOPLE EX REL. ILLINOIS FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, AFT, AFL-CIO ET AL., APPELLANTS,

v.

GEORGE W. LINDBERG, COMPTROLLER, ET AL., APPELLEES. — AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS ET AL., APPELLANTS,

v.

DANIEL WALKER, GOVERNOR, APPELLEE.



No. 46753. — Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Edward F. Healy, Judge, presiding.

No. 46763. — Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Samuel B. Epstein, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE KLUCZYNSKI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Robert Plotkin and H. Douglas Laycock, both of Chicago, for appellants.

William J. Scott, Attorney General, of Chicago (Herbert L. Caplan, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for appellee.

Lawrence Jay Weiner, of Chicago, for amicus curiae Illinois Education Association.

These consolidated appeals from the circuit court of Cook County involve class actions by members of several teachers' pension funds and others generally challenging the constitutional and statutory legality of Governor Daniel Walker's item reduction of certain appropriations made to these pension funds for the fiscal year 1974. The respective trial courts dismissed the complaints, and we granted direct appeal. 50 Ill.2d R. 302(b).

In cause No. 46753 plaintiffs, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and certain retired teachers and active teachers, filed a multicount complaint against George W. Lindberg (State Comptroller) and Alan J. Dixon (State Treasurer) seeking a writ of mandamus to compel payment of certain amounts to the respective teacher pension funds. The complaint further sought declaratory relief against Governor Walker's item appropriation reductions. The only matter appealed is the dismissal of the action seeking the declaratory relief.

The complaint in substance involved three teachers' pension plans which are described by plaintiffs as compulsory in nature. The first pension program was designated in the complaint as the "Downstate System." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 108 1/2, par. 16-101 et seq.) Plaintiffs alleged that the requisite statutory pension provisions required the State to make contributions to the "Downstate System" of $205,600,000 for the fiscal year 1974 as was determined in a prior action before the Illinois Court of Claims. That court had concluded that a contract existed between the teachers and the State as evidenced by constitutional and statutory provisions hereinafter enumerated. The complaint further alleged that the State was indebted to the "Downstate System" for a total amount of nearly 2.15 billion dollars which had developed from past years of inadequate funding. Plaintiffs averred that in an effort to discharge this obligation the General Assembly appropriated the fiscal amount designated by the Court of Claims. However, the Governor, in the exercise of his constitutionally delegated authority, reduced the amount to $96,000,000, and the General Assembly did not restore the original amount by a majority vote of each house of the legislature as constitutionally permitted. Ill. Const. (1970), art. IV, sec. 9(d).

The second pension plan herein involved was termed the "Universities Systems" plan. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 108 1/2, par. 15-101 et seq.) The complaint alleged the Court of Claims had certified that the State's indebtedness to this pension fund for the 1974 fiscal year was $55,882,691 and that the past overall State indebtedness is .51 billion dollars. The General Assembly appropriated $66,908,000 for the "Universities Systems" fund, but this amount was reduced by the Governor to $20,190,000. The General Assembly failed to restore the amount by which the appropriation had been reduced.

The third pension plan, which was not involved before the Court of Claims, was described in the complaint as the "Chicago Fund." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 108 1/2, par. 17-101 et seq.) The complaint alleged that the State debt to this plan for fiscal year 1974 was $23,666,799 and the past indebtedness totaled .84 billion dollars. The General Assembly, to meet the current obligations and to amortize past debt, appropriated $57,707,000 for the fiscal year, which the Governor reduced to $27,000,000. The General Assembly failed to restore the reduced amount.

Cause No. 46763 was a separate class action filed on behalf of various university teaching associations and certain members and beneficiaries of the "Universities Systems" pension plan. These plaintiffs sought the same declaratory relief as requested in cause No. 46753. This complaint, however, with greater specificity set forth the General Assembly appropriations to this pension fund. The complaint alleged the appropriation for current expenditures was $54,759,100 and this was reduced to $20,190,000 by the Governor. A separate appropriation bill for $12,138,599 was designed to amortize accrued unfunded liability, but this bill was vetoed.

It was averred that the Governor's reason for reducing the pension appropriation "was consistent with the historically sound system of the Federal Social Security System." No allegation was advanced in either complaint that those presently entitled to receive pension benefits were not receiving the necessary monies.

The possibility exists that criticism could arise due to the fact that members of this court might be affected by the decision due to our participation in the judicial retirement pension provisions of the Pension Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 108 1/2, par. 18-101 et seq.) But in an analogous case the United States Supreme Court stated:

"* * * Because of the individual relation of the members of this court to the question * * * we cannot but regret that its solution falls to us; and this although each member has been paying the tax in respect of his salary voluntarily and in regular course. But jurisdiction of the present case cannot be declined or renounced. The plaintiff was entitled by law to invoke our decision on the question as respects his own compensation, in which no other judge can have any direct personal interest; and there was no ...


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