BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Unconstitutional pension cuts. A federal court strikes down Baltimore City’s pension cuts for firefighters and police. It’s a ruling that could cost the city tens of millions of dollars in an already tight budget.

Vic Carter reports.

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In 2010, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake cut $64 million from police and firefighter pensions to help close a massive budget shortfall.

The outraged fire and police unions sued the city claiming their contract was broken. And on Thursday, a federal judge sided with the unions, ruling the pension cuts violate the U.S. constitution.

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But the mayor tells WJZ the cuts were necessary to keep Baltimore’s government in operation.

“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars,” Rawlings-Blake said. “And the costs were rising out of control and we needed to make sure that we could fund the system. And that’s why these changes were put in place.”

But the judge says the restructured contract unfairly targeted younger police officers and firefighters, and the cuts would hurt that group considerably more than their older counterparts.

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Fire union president Rick Hoffman tells WJZ the ruling speaks volumes, calling it a huge victory for fire and police employees. The city could still appeal the decision.

Vic Carter