The New Hampshire Supreme Court has said the state can increase public employees’ pension contributions, even after workers have spent 10-plus years on the job.
The ruling reverses a Superior Court decision, which could have required the state to refund $75 million dollars in pension contributions to some 25,000 public employees.
Richard Head, who argued for the state, says the four consenting Justices point to Michigan and Florida rulings in their decision. “The New Hampshire Supreme Court’s opinion is consistent with some of the other states that have ruled on this issue of employee contribution to the retirement system,” he says.
The coalition of public unions behind the suit has called the decision “disappointing,” saying “the ruling sends a strong negative message to younger workers who are required to join the retirement system, but do so without any protections against ever increasing costs that are deducted from their pay.”
Republican leaders say increased contributions are necessary to address the state pension system’s $5 billion unfunded liability. Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley sponsored the 2011 bill increasing retirement contribution levels.
In a statement, Bradley lauded the ruling, saying “this decision affirms the Legislature’s ability to make the changes we’ll need to preserve the New Hampshire Retirement System, protect taxpayers, and maintain employee jobs.”