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Washington Supreme Court Rejects $1.3 Billion Union Pension Lawsuits

State Supreme Court rejects union pension lawsuits
(Washington state legislative website)

The decision by the court means $1.3 billion won’t be dumped onto taxpayers.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson applauded the decision, saying the two lawsuits misstated facts and law, and asked the Supreme Court to ignore plain statuatory language, and cripple state and local budgets.  The suits had been brought by a group of public employee unions in our state.

According to Shift WA

 ”The lawsuits sought to ignore previous decisions made by the state Legislature to (1) “repeal automatic cost-of-living increases for participants in several first-generation pension plans” and (2) “repeal a law that once let employees share in stock gains when investment returns on pensions were red hot over several consecutive years.”

The arcane dispute – based on legislation passed by Democrats to reward their campaign supporters – mainly involved “gain-sharing”, a way of allowing certain pension plan holders a share in “extraordinary investment returns” when the economy was hot. But there would be no risk shared by the unions, that would all be on taxpayers - no rainy-day funds would exist to “prop up the pension funds in a downturn.”

Had the lawsuits been upheld, they would have added $1.3 billion dollars to the 2015-17 WA state and local budgets!   Part of the rationale for the lawsuits was pretty shocking, as reported by ShiftWA, from the language used by the unions in their court papers:

 “(the)sacrifices required of state citizens’ should be shared by all citizens through use of general revenue mechanisms,”   (Bold lettering added for emphasis).

Read that last line again a couple of  times.  They were saying these alleged sacrifices made by union workers should be taken care of by  increasing OUR tax burden.

Imagine if we went to the state, or labor unions, and said:   “Since our pensions aren’t as generous as yours are , YOU owe us.  It’s not fair.”
  This would have fallen into the catagory of what are called “unfunded liabilities,”  or financial debts not supported or offset by taxes.

This gives you an idea of how far off the railroad tracks many union leaders and representatives have gone.

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