In a unanimous decision issued Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of local pension fund consolidation contained in a 2019 law sponsored by State Senator Cristina Castro.

“This is a victory for taxpayers and first responders across Illinois,” said Castro (D-Elgin). “This consolidation is already producing positive returns, underscoring the importance of addressing our state’s most pressing financial issue.”

Castro’s law – which passed under Senate Bill 1300 – enabled downstate fire and police pension funds to be consolidated into two separate funds over a 30-month period beginning in January 2020. Since the law took effect, the Firefighters’ Pension Investment Fund has added more than $40 million in value through investment returns and seen a reduction in fees and expenses of $34 million. This has led to a reduction in statutory minimum contributions, saving money for local governments and taxpayers.

As of September, the law has enabled the consolidation of nearly 300 pension funds with $7.9 billion in total assets. It was expected that annual returns would measure around 7.1%, but the Fiscal Year 2023 rate of return was 9.7%.

“This measure is saving local governments money and ensuring retirees receive the full benefits they earned,” Castro said. “I am proud to see the plan upheld in court.”

The news comes as Senate Democrats continue to build off recent reforms that are setting the state on a path toward fiscal responsibility by repaying COVID-related borrowing, paying off millions in delayed insurance bills and contributing additional dollars to the Pension Stabilization Fund.

More information about the Illinois Firefighters’ Pension Investment Fund can be found on the IFPIF website.