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Prop 124 Would Reform Police and Firefighter Pensions

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The Arizona Republic
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One of the two ballot propositions Arizona voters will decide in tomorrow’s special election is Prop 124. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it would reform the state’s Public Safety Personnel Retirement System.

The police and firefighter pension has been underfunded for years because of lower-than-projected investment earnings. Prop 124 would amend the state constitution to make a cost-of-living adjustment to the program. Supporters say it would stabilize benefits for current employees and retirees, and save taxpayers more than a billion-and-a-half dollars over the next 30 years.

“Proposition 124 would allow the legislature to take control over the pension fund and have the effect, on the one hand, of making that fund solvent over a longer period of time. But on the other hand, it would limit the benefits that first responders would get,” says Fred Solop, a professor of political science at Northern Arizona University.

Solop says Prop 124 has no organized opposition. It’s backed by many Republican and Democratic lawmakers, Governor Doug Ducey, as well as police and firefighter organizations.

According to Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona’s pension protections are among the strongest in the nation. It’s one of seven states to constitutionally safeguard public retirement systems.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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