The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unamimously ruled that municipalities don’t have to pay college educated police officers what the state owes them, reports the Boston Globe.

Three police unions in Boston sued the city last year, arguing that Boston was legally obligated to pay police officers what they were owed by the state under the Quinn Bill, which mandates salary increases for officers who earn college degrees in relevant fields. The funding for the salary increase is supposed to be split equally between cities and the state, but the state paid Boston about 9 percent of what it owed in fiscal 2009. The city didn’t make up the difference -- a move that, according to Justice Francis X. Spina, was legally sound.

“The statute in the end requires only that municipalities pay one-half the amounts listed in the payment provision, plus any amount actually received from the Commonwealth,’’ Spina wrote in his court opinion. “Municipalities may agree to pay more, but the statute does not require it.’’

If the court had sided with the unions, Boston could have owed nearly $17 million to its police officers, according to the Globe.

Unlike the municipalities, the state does not have to pay its share in full because the Quinn bill only requires it to do so if it has the money.