Reax: Pension Initiative Booted From Ballot

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As The Range reported earlier, the initiative that would have scrapped the city's pension program has been knocked off the November ballot by the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Art Flagg, who is the local front man for the out-of-town interests that are funding the initiative, tells The Range he expects to appeal the decision.

"While we were surprised by the court's decision, the appeals process is not complete," Flagg told The Range via email. "We remain optimistic that the Initiative will qualify for the ballot."

Meanwhile, the Pima County Democratic Party is celebrating the court decision. The PCDP press release:

Score one for the good guys. The Arizona Court of Appeals today ruled that a lower court erred in rejecting challenges to petition signatures supporting Proposition 201, the initiative designed to destroy the City of Tucson’s current pension system and replace it with a risky 401(k)-style plan. The panel also ordered an injunction be issued to block “The Sustainable Retirement Benefits Act” from appearing on the November 3 ballot.

A final appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court appears possible but would be unlikely to succeed.

A radical, anti-public employee group based in Virginia backed Prop. 201, and used known felons and unregistered out-of-state circulators to collect signatures. The measure would have cost $24-million to start and another $136-million over twelve years, which would have pushed the City to the brink of bankruptcy and forced leaders to choose between a major sales tax increase or diminished emergency, transportation and parks services.

“The Appeals Court looked and the facts of the case and ruled correctly,” said Don Jorgensen, Chair of the Pima County Democratic Party. “This is a victory for hard-working City employees, fiscal responsibility and local control.”

“Collecting signatures properly is more than just a burdensome hoop created for us to jump through,” said Shasta McManus, PCDP Executive Director. “Competency in this task shows the public that you are responsible, organized, and have the public support needed to proceed to the ballot. Unfortunately for them, they were lacking in one or more of those areas."

Tucson is not Detroit. The Old Pueblo’s current pension program came out of the Great Recession in far better shape than most similar systems. As it stands, a one-to-one ratio of contributing employees to retirees covers the cost and keeps the system working well.

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