SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — The bulk of the projected savings in the pension-reform deal announced by Gov. Jerry Brown won’t be felt for decades because most of the proposed changes will affect employees who have yet to be hired.

While Brown touted his deal as a way to shore up California’s pension funds, it also illustrates the difficulty in addressing runaway pension costs. That’s because retirement benefits for current government employees are protected by decades of court decisions.

Jeff Lewis, an Oakland-based attorney who represents public workers, said Wednesday that it’s nearly impossible to change their retirement benefits because courts have generally viewed them as a vested right.

One of the few changes to affect current workers is a provision that would have them contribute at least half the cost of their retirement benefits.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)