Retirees to sue over pension change

2013-05-07T19:23:00Z 2013-05-07T19:55:04Z Retirees to sue over pension changeGazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette
May 07, 2013 7:23 pm  • 

HELENA — A group of retired Montana public employees will sue over a recent change in state pension laws, its president said Tuesday.

“Our association has voted to pursue litigation in order to protect our contract rights under the Constitution in the state of Montana,” said Russell E. Wrigg of Helena, president of the Association of Montana Retired Public Employees.

Wrigg said the legal challenge may be filed in a few weeks or a month as the group and its attorney decide whether to pursue the case in state or federal court.

Gov. Steve Bullock on Monday signed the bill into law. It is House Bill 454, by Rep. Bill McChesney, D-Miles City, that seeks to fix the financially troubled Public Employees’ Retirement System.

The bill raises the contribution rate of current public employees and employers, and pumps in $72.6 million of state money from natural resource funds and interest over the next two years.

The association is concerned about a provision in HB454 to reduce the annual current cost-of-living raise paid to retirees, known as the Guaranteed Annual Benefit Adjustment (GABA), from 3 percent to 1.5 percent.

During legislative debates, a number of legislators said they believed the reduction in GABA for current retirees to likely be unconstitutional.

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