Stockton, California, won court approval of its plan to exit bankruptcy by paying bond investors pennies on the dollar while shielding public pensions, in a case watched by other cities facing heavy retiree costs.“This plan, I’m persuaded, is the best that could be done in terms of restructuring the city’s debts,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein said at a hearing today in Sacramento, the state capital.Bankruptcy lawyers and pension advocates nationwide have been following the case to see whether pensions administered by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System would be protected from cuts. Klein ruled earlier that Calpers doesn’t deserve special protection, the first time the biggest U.S. public pension fund was found vulnerable to cuts in a bankruptcy. Calpers and public-worker groups decried the decision. A bankruptcy judge in Detroit ruled has against pension funds in a similar situation.
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