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posted: 3/2/2011 11:41 AM

Cullerton: Cutting Ill. pensions unconstitutional

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says cutting pension benefits for current state employees is "clearly unconstitutional."

Illinois officials are looking for ways to cut costs, and pensions are a popular target. House Speaker Michael Madigan has suggested benefits may have to be cut.

But Cullerton's office said Wednesday that a legal review shows the Illinois Constitution bars reducing benefits once an employee is part of the state pension system.

That would still let the state offer smaller pensions to workers it hires in the future, and officials already have taken some steps in that direction.