Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bolick for Arizona: Pensions for Politicians?

Shawnna Bolick - Request a sign for your yard, Donate, Volunteer
Common Sense Leadership, Arizona House - District 28,
About Shawnna, Issues, Volunteer, Endorsements, Donate, Contact
Dear Neighbor,

            Another important issue in which the incumbent Eric Meyer and I disagree is pensions for politicians: he likes them, I don’t.

            As you know, similar to the rest of the country Arizona also faces a looming public pension crisis.  In order to meet our obligations to current retirees and public employees, we either must reform the system, or impose huge tax burdens on our children and grandchildren.

            In 2013, the Legislature took a very important first step toward reform, passing HB 2608, which put an end to the costly and extravagant defined contribution plan for future elected officials and replaced it with a less expensive 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan.  Fortunately, the reform passed and was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer.

            State Representative Phil Lovas had this to say during a floor speech when debating this pension reform bill:
“This public pension plan is the most lucrative lifetime benefit in the State of Arizona.  And, because it is so lucrative it is unsustainable in the long-term.... This bill ensures the solvency of the plan for elected officials currently in the system, it modernizes it for new members, and it provides financial relief for cities and counties.  Now ask yourself these questions.  Does one deserve a lifetime benefit simply because one runs for office?  Do politicians deserve to continue having the most lucrative public retirement system in Arizona? A retirement system better than teachers, better than fire, better than police?”
Eric Meyer voted no.  I would have voted yes.  I believe elected officials should make an example of themselves as a first step to curbing unsustainable costs.  Eric Meyer wanted to keep his pension at your expense, but thankfully, his colleagues common sense prevailed.  I applaud all of our elected officials that worked to pass HB 2608 without the help of Meyer.
The pension plan for elected officials is in more trouble than any other in the state—only 58 percent of its liabilities are funded.  If revenues fall short of obligations, taxpayers will be forced to pick up the tab.
            Under the old pension plan—the one that Eric Meyer continues to have—taxpayers contribute a whopping 39 percent of each elected official’s salary.  Under the new plan for officials who are elected this year, that contribution will drop to a more reasonable 6 percent.

            Very few LD 28 residents receive such gold-plated benefits.  Nor should our elected representatives.

            Fiscal responsibility begins at home.  As your elected representative, I will look to find efficiencies wherever I can—and to make sure we have the resources to fund the commitments we’ve made. Eric Meyer supports taxpayer-sponsored spending sprees. Isn’t it time to elect someone who will lead on pension reform and fiscal responsibility, not obstruct it?


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