Hartford Courant (Conn.):

Double-dipping by municipal employees – collecting full retirement benefits while simultaneously being paid for full-time employment – isn’t dead quite yet in Connecticut. But thanks to a wise decision by Superior Court Judge Carl J. Schuman, it’s in its last throes.

Judge Schuman ruled recently in separate cases involving the denial of pension benefits to two public officials: East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo and Hartford public works official Marilynn Cruz- Aponte.

For years, the state had allowed some municipal employees to retire from one job, start a new one, and still collect a pension. In 2011, state retirement officials ended that practice, saying state law forbids it but that the law had been misinterpreted for years.

Mr. Maturo and Ms. Cruz- Aponte, both retirees with present jobs, argued that the reversal unfairly deprived them of benefits that many other people had enjoyed.

In dismissing the suits filed in appeal of State Employee Retirement Commission rulings, Judge Schuman decided that an agency shouldn’t be forced to follow an erroneous former interpretation of a statute. That makes a good deal of sense: Why maintain an unfair, needlessly expensive practice simply because that’s the way it had been mistakenly done?

Lawyers for Mr. Maturo and Ms. Cruz-Aponte also based part of their argument on a fine distinction.

A decades-old law forbids double-dipping if the new job is with a municipality that participates in the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement System, known as CMERS. Both Mr. Maturo and Ms. Cruz-Aponte work in participating municipalities .

But due to a technical quirk, some town positions, even in participating towns, aren’t part of CMERS. Neither Mr. Maturo’s job, mayor of East Haven, nor Ms. Cruz-Aponte’s job, assistant to Hartford’s public works director, is a CMERS position. Therefore, they argued, double-dipping is allowed.

That argument flies in the face of common sense.

Dozens of other retirees may now have to defend their double-dipping at state hearings. That’s as it should be. This wasteful practice must end.