For decades in California, a sacrosanct rule has governed public employees’ pensions: Benefits promised can never be taken away.
Now, cases before the state Supreme Court threaten to reverse that premise and open the door to benefit cuts for workers still on the job.
According to the Mercury News, the lawsuits have enormous implications for California cities, counties, schools, fire districts and other local bodies facing a sharp rise in their pension costs.
At issue is the “California Rule,” which dates to court rulings beginning in 1947. It says workers enter a contract with their employer on their first day of work, entitling them to retirement benefits that can never be diminished unless replaced with similar benefits.
It gives workers security that their retirement will be safe and predictable after a career in public service.
It’s widely accepted that retirement benefits linked to work already performed cannot be touched. Accepted by everyone except Governor Brown that is.