Court rules against repeal of annual increases for PERS 1, TRS 1 retirees

Posted 15-Nov-2012

A Thurston County Superior Court ruling has invalidated provisions of a 2011 law which discontinued annual benefit increases for retirees from the state’s older pension plans for state and local government employees and teachers.

In a summary judgment issued Nov. 9, Judge Chris Wickham ruled that the Legislature improperly repealed an annual increase provided to retirees and beneficiaries in the Public Employees’ Retirement System Plan 1 (PERS 1) and the Teachers’ Retirement System Plan 1 (TRS 1). Both plans have been closed to new members since 1977.

When the provision for annual increases was approved in 1995, the Legislature stipulated it was not a contractual right and that the state reserved the right to amend or repeal it. Wickham ruled, however, that the repeal was a violation of the state constitution.

The annual increases were discontinued by the Legislature in 2011. After the repeal took effect, it was challenged in court by the Washington Education Association, the Washington Federation of State Employees and the Retired Public Employees Council of Washington. The reference for the case is Washington Education Association et al v State Retirement Systems et al, Thurston County Superior Court No. 11-2-02213-4.

Wickham’s decision will be formalized in a final judgment and order that will be issued at a later date. Once an order is finalized and issued, there will be a 30-day period for filing of appeals.

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