Gov. Tom Corbett and his legal staff are hoping fine distinctions in Pennsylvania case law will allow $12 billion in cuts to the future pension benefits of current state and school employees.
Union leaders opposed to any cuts promise to fight Corbett's plan. Court rulings over the years seem to be on their side. Pennsylvania courts have established pensions as a contract, and the state constitution protects against changes that ``impair'' that contract.
But the governor's legal counsel says Corbett's plan would not make any changes that impair any contracts. Instead, the governor wants to freeze benefits for more than 370,000 current employees then replace them with benefits at a reduced rate, starting in 2015.
Corbett and legislators are contending with Pennsylvania's unfunded pension liability of $41 billion.