A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that retired public workers have a right to cost-of-living increases in their pensions.
But in an opinion Thursday, a three-judge panel leaves it to a lower court judge to decide whether the state had proper justification for suspending those hikes as part of a 2011 pension-system overhaul.
Pension funding for public workers has become a major political and legal issue in New Jersey because of the growing cost to make up for decades of underpayments.
Thursday’s ruling follows one by a judge on Wednesday who said public workers have a contractual right to a fully funded pension system. The judge in that case ruled Gov. Chris Christie can reduce the payment due this month because the state is in a legitimate financial bind.