California Supreme Court May Authorize Cuts to Pension Benefits

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A sign stands in front of California Public Employees' Retirement System building July 21, 2009 in Sacramento, California. CalPERS, the state's public employees retirement fund, reported a loss of 23.4%, its largest annual loss.  (Photo: Max Whittaker / Getty Images)

The California Supreme Court is set to decide whether to loosen the state's decades-old rule barring state and local governments from reducing public pension benefits. Under review is a 2016 appellate court decision that concluded a retirement benefit is not an "immutable entitlement" and allowed Marin County to cut employees' expected pensions. A second pending case covering public employees in Contra Costa, Alameda and Merced counties raises similar issues. Legal experts expect the court to issue a consolidated ruling on both cases sometime this year. We discuss the potential impacts of these cases on public employees in California and nationally.

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Judy Lin, California political reporter, Calmatters

Dave Low, chairman, Californians for Retirement Security

Joe Nation, professor of public policy, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research; former member of the California State Assembly, 6th District