Over the past several months there have been a number of unsettling pension articles in local newspapers both in Tucson and Phoenix, and even alarming messages from PSPRS itself: (Link) Lawsuit Update – Notice to Members. Based on the aforementioned “breach” of confidential data by an apparent “whistleblower”, PSPRS sent letters to individual members offering free “Life Lock” services for 1 year to “protect” member information. Coincidentally, all this was on the heels of complaints to the Attorney General’s office citing mismanagement of pension assets via a request for an investigation by APA Executive Director Levi Bolton.
Prior to this request CLEAA leadership met and concurred with this action as information unfolded. A Grand Jury has now convened investigating said allegations. http://www.kptv.com/story/23532065/az-police-assoc-wants-criminal-investigation-into-pension-bo. While it is true our Public Safety Pension systems are not 100% funded, it is also true that they will remain sustainable for all our existing members, albeit through increased employer contributions as necessary. While no one is certain what future funding will look like, we do know that current members of the PSPRS system are guaranteed their benefit by both the AZ Constitution and 40 years of contractual law( Link) Fields Case News Release (SB1609 PBI Changes ruled unconstitutional).
There have historically been some gestures by the legislature to move new hires into a DC system; however evidence shows that a Defined Contribution system will present a financial burden to the State Budget and the notion that DC is better than DB has been debunked through study groups in AZ and pension strategist nationally. While it is true that the recent reversal of Legislative changes of SB1609, in the 2011 legislature, will cause the pension financial pressure, it is also a fact that the status of the pension continues to be sustainable. To that end, CLEAA is currently collaborating with our affiliate APA and will soon release particulars of a positive strategy that will safeguard current and future pensions for public safety statewide; stand by as these innovative details are disclosed.
As CLEAA members, take comfort knowing that the fight to maintain your hard-earned pensions is being led by seasoned lobbyist and leaders in both CLEAA and APA who recognize the magnitude of the issue and have actual leadership boots on the ground at all venues. This is how CLEAA does business for its membership, unlike the smoke & mirrors of urgent bulletins employed by misguided organizations who purport to represent the interest of public safety in southern Arizona.
Lu Ebratt / Executive Director, CLEAA