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A judge is one step closer to deciding whether lawmakers have the authority to change pension benefits for state workers and retirees. Unions filed suit against the latest pension law, claiming it violates the state's constitution, which says pension benefits can't be diminished or impaired. Spokesman Anders Lindall says that means exactly what is says.

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Lindall says teachers and other hard-working state employees have made their payments faithfully and shouldn't be short-changed just because the state hasn't kept its end of the deal. But attorneys for the state have a different take on what the pension clause says. They say it's not absolute and leaves room for lawmakers to make changes in extreme circumstances. The attorneys argue the state has an emergency because the pension systems have a shortfall of more than 100-billion dollars. The judge will issue his opinion this afternoon.

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