Arizona Pension Reformer Mysteriously Murdered

Reformer Dead

Reformer Dead

…News at 11.   Future headline?

Who has the balls to reform the Arizona public safety personnel pension?

The big take-away conclusion from the defeat of Prop. 487 is that no politician of any substance is going to touch pension reform for a long time going forward.

You know what they call a governor who directly addresses his state’s exploding pension liabilities? Scott Walker.

You want to reform public pensions, Mr. Governor? Then be prepared for recall elections, state-government shut-downs, protest carnivals funded by national unions and legally bogus investigations of you and your supporters, just like the Republican governor of Wisconsin endured.

Doug MacEachern | azcentral.com November 10, 2014

On election night, Phoenix City Councilwoman Thelda Williams responded to a reporter’s question about Proposition 487, the pension-reform measure that was in the process of getting crushed.

“Now it’s time for us to step forward and do some reforms,” said Williams, who opposed the ballot measure. “I just never believed that it was the mechanism for us to do it.”

So… what is that mechanism?

I think we know. The favored “mechanism” for resolving this ever-expanding pension problem is pretty clear, isn’t it?

Elected officials react to crises. To train wrecks. Both the Phoenix-run and state-run public pension systems have been described often as “train wrecks.” But, really, they’re not.

The consequences of not doing anything serious on pensions are not going to fall on Thelda Williams’ shoulders. Nor on the shoulders of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who frolicked with opponents of 487 on Election Night. They’ll be long gone. Perhaps collecting their defined-benefit pensions. There’ll be no “train wreck” on their watch.

The proper imagery for what will happen to our public pension systems isn’t two locomotives slamming together in the night. It’s a weight on the backs of taxpayers that gets inexorably bigger. Citizens of Phoenix, simply, will pay more. Or, more of the revenue they provide the city every year will go to shore up pension-system shortfalls, rather than to services. Or, most likely, both.

The same scenario holds for state taxpayers. A bigger tax burden is the “mechanism.” That, and the deterioration of government-provided services that follow.

The big take-away conclusion from the defeat of Prop. 487 is that no politician of any substance is going to touch pension reform for a long time going forward.

Even before Election Day, both major gubernatorial candidates dodged questions from The Republic’s Craig Harris about what they would do to shore up the state’s own pension mess. Neither “offered specific plans,” wrote Harris.

You know what they call a governor who directly addresses his state’s exploding pension liabilities? Scott Walker.

You want to reform public pensions, Mr. Governor? Then be prepared for recall elections, state-government shut-downs, protest carnivals funded by national unions and legally bogus investigations of you and your supporters, just like the Republican governor of Wisconsin endured. Small wonder both Arizona candidates were so short on specifics.

The unspoken truth about defined benefit pension plans for public employees is this: As the courts have ruled time and again, the governments that have made the promise have to pay on the promise.

And absent real reform, there is only one way that promise gets kept. By demanding more from city residents and state taxpayers. That’s the mechanism.

RELATED: Read more news about pension system

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