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SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- State and local governments have spent more than $50,000 on legal advice about potential cuts in pension benefits.

Proponents hope getting the lawyers involved early will help them avoid the fate of the last major pension overhaul in 2003. Those changes were partially struck down in court, and the pension fund had to pay $2.1 million in legal fees for the retirees who sued.

Public pensions will cost taxpayers at all levels of government $2.9 billion over the next two years, an increase of $900 million over the last two years. Some officials would rather spend the money on public schools.

They're pushing the Legislature to lower pension costs by cutting back on benefits.

Pension beneficiaries say the proposed reforms would violate a contract and would be struck down.

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