Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Last year I posted that the Goldwater Institute declares war on public employees:
Now the Goldwater Institute "Kochtopus" Death Star wants to extend this fiscally reckless amd irresponsible idea [Tucson public employee pension initiative] to state and local governments in Arizona through a statewide initiative. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Initiative would tie government spending to pension funding:
A proposed ballot measure would effectively bar state and local governments from increasing spending across the board until its employee pension systems are adequately funded.
[The purposefully deceptively named] Responsible Budgets Act, which was filed with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on Friday, would bar political entities with underfunded pension systems from increasing spending, except for inflation and population growth. A provision in the initiative defines “adequately funded” as 80 percent funded.
[I-02-2014 Responsible Budgets in Support of Proposition __ and Petition Serial # ____, full text of initiative: PDF]
I am guessing that the Goldwater Institute "Kochtopus" Death Star is also behind this latest bill attacking the state employee pension system as well, sponsored by its waterboy, Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills). Lawmaker seeks to allow cuts in public pensions:
An Arizona lawmaker wants the state constitution amended to allow cuts to public employee pensions and increases in employee contributions if the systems are badly underfunded.
Republican Rep. John Kavanagh introduced a bill [HCR 2001 (.pdf)] that would refer the proposal to the voters. He said in an interview he is targeting automatic cost-of-living increases but acknowledged nothing in his proposal would prevent cuts to existing pensions.
“This doesn’t remove the pensions; this simply says if the money’s not there, the benefits have to be trimmed to make the system healthy. And employees were never promised” cost-of-living increases, Kavanagh said. But “if the world was to flip into a recession, and we went into a depression, surely members don’t think that life will go merrily along in the public pension realm.”
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said Tuesday that there are funding problems with the state’s three major pension systems — a fourth for elected officials and judges was closed to new enrollment last year — but he said there are ways to deal with that without removing constitutional protections that bar diminishing promised payouts.
“Penalizing workers or potential workers who work for a public entity isn’t how you solve the problems,” Campbell said. “I’m not sitting here saying there’s not some problems to be addressed with public pensions and long-term issues, but these are not real solutions; these are political stunts.”
Kavanagh said that under his proposal, payouts from the state’s three major pension plans would have to be trimmed and contributions from employees and employers raised if reasonable accounting practices found cuts were needed.
“These decreases are only triggered when it’s necessary to maintain the health of the system,” he said. “If the system doesn’t need the cuts, you can’t do them.”
Just what would trigger the cuts, however, is only vaguely defined. [But of course.]
Current state law does not allow existing pensions to be touched. The state’s biggest pension plan, the Arizona State Retirement System, hasn’t given a cost-of-living increase to retirees since 2005. The two others and the closed plan for judges do, but they were trimmed by the Legislature under a 2011 law that is facing numerous legal challenges.
The Arizona Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the law unconstitutionally trimmed cost-of-living adjustments last year but hasn’t ruled.
* * *
The issue isn’t just constitutional but also touches on contract law. A promised pension is a contract, and cutting benefits would likely trigger a challenge on that front as well.
ASRS currently has enough money to pay about 75 percent of its expected pensions. The plan has $30.6 billion in assets as of 2012, more than $9 billion short of liabilities, but is generally considered healthy. As of June 2013, it had about 207,000 current members and 122,000 retirees drawing pensions.
The plan for public safety officers has just 57 percent of its expected liabilities, with $6.1 billion in assets and $10.8 billion in liabilities, a balance considered too low. The state’s plan for prison guards is at 67 percent funding, with $1.6 billion in assets and $2.3 billion in liabilities.
Changing the constitution to allow cuts to current and promised pensions doesn’t sit well with retirees, who could see their guaranteed monthly checks reduced.
If the House and Senate pass the bill, it would be placed on the November ballot.
Hmmm, maybe the police, fire, teachers, judges, and other public employees — particularly the retirees — who will see their retirement benefits cut by Rep. Kavanagh's bill should "occupy" his office in a nonviolent protest against his assault on your retirement income security. Don't take this crap from him lying down. Fight back!
The battle lines between the Kleptocracy of the "Kochtopus" and the hard-working men and women of Arizona have been drawn for 2014: