Minnesota public employee retirees have lost a round in their effort to turn back pension changes made by lawmakers last year.
Statutes regulating benefit formulas do not constitute contracts that require negotiating, ruled Ramsey County District Court Judge Gregg Johnson. He said the benefit adjustments amounted to a reasonable response to a fiscal threat that jeopardized the long-term interests of retirees.
At issue were cost of living adjustments that occurred automatically for retired state employees drawing pensions. The changes affect the state's three largest retirement funds. One is for teachers, another covers state employees and the third covers local municipal workers.
The pension funds differ, but under the changes, current employees and employers will have to pay more into the fund while retirees will receive smaller annual increases in their payouts. For retired teachers, payouts will be frozen for two years, starting next year.
Roughly 144,000 retirees receive a payment of between $1,300 and $2,300 a month.
--- MPR reporter Tom Weber contributed to this story.