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Proposition 124 overhauls public safety pension plan

Police form a cordon to clear the street Thursday, July 29, 2010 in Phoenix while protesters rally against Arizona's new immigration law, SB1070. Opponents of Arizona's immigration crackdown went ahead with protests Thursday despite a judge's ruling that delayed enforcement of most the law. (AP Photo/Matt York)

A public safety pension overhaul is on Tuesday’s ballot.

Bryan Jeffries with the Professional Firefighters of Arizona says Proposition 124 is coming just in time.

“Right now, the system is only approximately 48 percent funded,” he said. Basically, that means less than half of eligible pensioners will receive full pension.

Proposition 124 increases the contribution requirement for public safety employees, like police and firefighters. It also caps the salary eligible for a pension and increases on pensions at two percent.

The current system doesn’t allow reductions in permanent benefit increases. Poor investment returns are also part of the problem. Anticipated returns on funds the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System held were around 7 or 8 percent. The funds for the pension system have returned 5 percent between 2002 and 2016.

Jeffries says this would mean a cut in pension benefits, but also said public safety employees are “pragmatic.”

“The bottom line is, this is a math issue,” he said. “We have got to fix this problem.”

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