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Article updated: 2/5/2013 7:50 AM

Big question looms in pension debate: Are cuts legal?

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Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, is a central player in the debate on how best to save money on teachers' and state workers' pensions.

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Elaine Nekritz

As lawmakers debate pension cost reductions, perhaps the biggest looming question is whether it is legal to cut employees' pension benefits.

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

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As lawmakers resume the debate over Illinois's growing retirement fund debts in the coming weeks, perhaps the biggest looming question is whether cutting employees' pension benefits as proposed is legal. No one knows for sure how the Illinois Supreme Court would eventually rule. But the stakes are high enough that even before lawmakers can find a compromise on pension cost cuts, an eventual lawsuit is on everyone's minds.
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    • Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, is a central player in the debate on how best to save money on teachers' and state workers' pensions.
    • Elaine Nekritz
    • As lawmakers debate pension cost reductions, perhaps the biggest looming question is whether it is legal to cut employees’ pension benefits.
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