Arizona Judges’ Pension Lawsuit Hits State Supreme Court


Two Arizona judges are suing the state, seeking a refund for pension contributions they’ve made over the last four years.

A 2011 law nearly doubled pension contribution rates for judges, who contend that the law was a breach of contract.

If the Supreme Court rules in the judges’ favor, it could lead to a refund totaling $175 million.

More from the Arizona Republic:

Judges, politicians and public-safety workers for the past four years have been required by law to pay significantly more out of their pockets for their state-sponsored pension benefits.

But two Arizona Court of Appeals judges are suing to turn the higher payments, contending they are unconstitutional — even though the 2011 law was passed to help shore up their financially troubled state pension trust.


The outcome, which may not be known for months, could be financially significant.

The retirement trust fund for judges is part of the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, and any ruling in their favor also will affect police officers and firefighters, who are the biggest trust members. PSPRS estimated refunds sought by the judges’ challenge would total about $175 million, with another $1.4 million going toward permanent benefit increases.

The Hall case seeks to roll back the pension payments of roughly 200 judges to pre-2011 levels, or 7 percent of their salaries. Today, they pay 13 percent. Employers pay an average of 23.5 percent.

Arguments begin Thursday.


Photo by Joe Gratz via Flickr CC License

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