Governor Brewer – PSPRS Pension “Bloodbath”

2 articles:

Brewer reflects on successes, woes of 2014 agenda

Updated Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gov. Jan Brewer smiles as she is interviewed about her years in the executive office, on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in Phoenix, Ariz.

Article excerpts regarding another summer 2014 special legislative session…

A proposal to overhaul the state’s woefully underfunded public safety pension system [ The Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System – PSPRS] is being floated by the state firefighters association and is backed by some lawmakers. But while generally supportive, Brewer said she will not call lawmakers back until a deal is done.

Governor Janice Brewer – “…I don’t know if we could call them into special session and have a bloodbath.”

LOLA – Legislative On Line Arizona – By Staff – June 11, 2014


The PSPRS board’s June 5 vote to urge a special session on pension reform, but not to endorse a specific plan, isn’t sitting well with Kavanagh. “The PSPRS action was far from encouraging. They said they want the special session, but they wouldn’t say what they wanted done in the special session. And since they’re major players in the pension system, that was very disappointing,” he said.

“When key players in this field, like PSPRS, basically say, ‘Don’t stand there, do something,’ but don’t suggest what, it’s certainly not a big endorsement or encouragement.” Whether to endorse the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona plan, which is the only specific plan that has been proposed so far for the possible special session, was a major point of debate at the meeting.

Several board members were enthusiastic about endorsing the plan. But some were uncomfortable with the board providing that kind of direction, and that faction ultimately prevailed. The board voted 6-1 on an amendment calling for a special session that struck an endorsement for the firefighters’ plan and replaced it with generic language supporting legislation that the pension system’s administrator and actuaries believed would properly fund PSPRS with reductions in COLA payments. After the meeting, PFFA President Tim Hill said he was disappointed, but didn’t think the lack of support for his group’s plan would be an impediment.

Kavanagh said it’s uncertain whether there will even be a special session, and said he hasn’t heard much support – or really any chatter at all – among his colleagues. “I think, at this point, it’s a flip of the coin. When PSPRS isn’t really pushing for it but just giving it lip service, it takes some of the steam out of it,” he said. Lovas was also skeptical. He said there’s little enthusiasm among lawmakers, and that he personally would prefer to wait until after Phoenix residents vote on a city pension reform measure, which Lovas and Kavanagh both said would be a good gauge of public support.

(That municipal initiative would end the city’s defined benefit pension program and replace it with a defined contribution plan for all new city workers.) Both lawmakers also suggested including other policies in a pension reform measure, such as an end to pension spiking. “I don’t see much of an appetite for people to do a special session on this, at least from the members’ point of a view. No members have come to me and said, ‘We’ve got to do a special session,’” Lovas said.

Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder emphasized that the Ninth Floor has only met once with the pension reform advocates, and that nothing has been decided. “Our office had an initial meeting on this reform issue a few weeks ago. At that time we publicly noted that no decisions or agreements had been made. There hasn’t been any new development – on our end – since those news reports,” Wilder said. Hill told the PSPRS board that the firefighters have another meeting with the governor’s office early in the week of June 9.

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