Arizona Pension Change Winning Special Election

Arizona held a special election on Tuesday, and included on the ballot were various Propositions. Among those was Proposition 124, which aims to change the pension system in Arizona for public officials. The proposition would change the contributions, timing, and payout of Arizona pensions for fire fighters and police officers.

The Daily Miner has more on the election:

Meanwhile, Proposition 124 changing the state’s pension plan for emergency workers was winning with 70 percent of the early ballots cast, and the head of the state’s largest firefighters union called it a landslide victory. The proposal would ratify a major part of an overhaul of the police and firefighter pension system that was enacted by the Arizona Legislature earlier this year.

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The pension plan changes voters must ratify include lower cost-of-living increases for current and future retirees and are designed to help fix the system’s finances. The funding level has sunk to just 50 percent of its expected liabilities while employers have seen their contribution rates soar.

The larger overhaul of the pension system establishes a new tier for newly hired officers, limiting maximum pension payments and equalizing employer and employee contribution rates.

“This measure means firefighters and police officers will need to work longer before retirement, contribute more and accept lower cost of living increases down the line, but we agreed to these sacrifices because we understood the seriousness of this emergency,” said Bryan Jeffries, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona. “We saw a crisis and we took action to fix it.”

Ann Ridenour, 80, said she supported Proposition 124, but wished that new public safety employees could receive the same benefits as their more experienced colleagues.

“It doesn’t seem quite fair,” she said.

This election went smoothly due to the opening of almost 60 more polling places in Maricopa County. Voters did not have to wait in long lines, unlike during the March presidential primary.

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