State says pension overhaul law is justified

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawyers have responded to a lawsuit over the state's pension overhaul, arguing the reforms are justified because of mounting debt and financial problems.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1sVHXsj ) the Illinois Attorney General responded to the lawsuit Thursday. In court documents, lawyers argued the state's pension law "presents a valid exercise of ... sovereign powers to modify contractual rights and obligation."

Earlier this week, a Sangamon County judge stopped the law from taking effect until the court can rule on its constitutionality.

The overhaul was designed to close a $100 billion deficit in five state pension systems.

Five lawsuits challenging the law were consolidated in Sangamon County court. State employees and retirees claim the law is unconstitutional. They say it would improperly reduce pension benefits they were promised.