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Updated Feb 20, 2014 - 11:46 am

Arizona high court bars cuts to public pensions

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Supreme Court said the Legislature can't cut cost-of-living increases promised to state retirees.

The ruling released Thursday came in a case brought after the Legislature cut the increases in 2011 for retirees in the state plan for judges and elected officials.

A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of retired judges after they sued, but the state appealed.

The Legislature cut cost-of-living increases after the judges' retirement system lost money in the Great Recession and became severely underfunded. The retired judges argued the increases were a promised benefit and lower courts agreed.

The high court agreed the increases are part of a promised retirement benefit and are protected by the pension clause of the state Constitution. That clause barred "diminishing or impairing" public retirement benefits.

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