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Arizona pension overhaul ruled ‘unconstitutional’

A Maricopa County Superior Court has ruled legislation that would overhaul Arizona’s pension system is unconstitutional.

The Arizona Republic reports Judge John Buttrick said in a ruling last week lawmakers violated the state Constitution when they passed a bill that would halt pension raises for elected officials and judges.

Several judges and officials sued the state, saying the Constitution states public retirement benefits cannot be “diminished or impaired.”

Retired Judge Kenneth Fields, who led the lawsuit’s filing, says the state would have been breaking a binding contract.

The bill’s supporters say stopping the increases was needed to protect the state pension fund’s finances.

A spokesman for the state’s public retirement system says the agency has not yet decided if it will appeal the ruling.

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