University of Illinois employees participate in one of the three retirement plan options offered by the State Universities Retirement System (SURS). According the SURS Facts document (p1), the average monthly retirement benefit of a SURS annuitant is $3,200 (as of 6/30/15). SURS was founded in 1941 and has more than 210,000 members.

The state of Illinois has not adequately funded public pensions over the last decade. At the end of FY15, total unfunded liability for the five state public pension systems was $111 billion (p6). SURS unfunded liabilities totaled $22.1 billion (p6).

On December 3, 2013, the General Assembly passed a pension reform bill (Senate Bill 1). Numerous news stories gave details about the vote and changes that would impact current and future retirees. SURS provided a summary of the bill and its impact.

In November 2014, a Sangamon County Circuit Court judge issued a final declaratory judgment that Public Act 98-0599 is unconstitutional and void in its entirety. The court also ordered that the preliminary injunction preventing state defendants (including SURS) from implementing the Act since May 14, 2014, become permanent.

The question was decided in May 2015 when the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the change was unconstitutional.The judges said that the law violated the pension protection clause in the Illinois Constitution (1970).