Earlier today, the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued its decision in the Professional Firefighters of NH v. State of NH “Rate Case” permitting firefighters, police officers, teachers, and public employees’ pension contributions to be increased.
The Coalition believes that the Court’s ruling focuses narrowly on the Legislature’s ability to change a “fixed contribution rate.” The Court relied on a Florida Supreme Court decision in a similar case, allowing a Legislative body “to amend a retirement plan prospectively, so long as any benefits tied to service performed prior to the amendment date are not lost or impaired.” The Florida Court made clear that it was not authorizing the Florida Legislature to modify benefits.
Today’s ruling does not clearly come to terms with important policy considerations. 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.
There is much left unsaid in this decision and we are hopeful that the Court, in their upcoming decisions on remaining Retirement System cases, will be more definitive and better explain their rationale so that Coalition members will know exactly where they stand before and after retirement.
The NH Retirement Security Coalition represents over 76,000 active and retired Firefighters, Police Officers, Teachers State and Municipal Employees