Monday, March 28, 2011

House Democrats call out GOP plan to steal from public safety officers

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats are holding Republicans accountable for voting against public safety officers’ lifetime service.

House Republicans voted in committee to steal retirement from firefighters, police and correctional officers in Arizona with passing Senate Bill 1609, which now goes to the House floor.

“House Democrats support the men and women who protect our families every day by putting their lives on the line, and it is unconscionable that government could vote to make their lives even harder after serving our communities,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “Now more than ever, we need to hold government accountable to We the People.”

SB 1609 would:
-Make it difficult to recruit and retain public safety officers and protect family members’ when an officer is injured or killed in the line of duty.
-Not allow for a cost of living adjustment for approximately 17 years. The adjustment is currently used to offset increasing health care costs because public safety officers don’t qualify for Medicare or receive social security.
-Reduce the amount of an officer’s pension from 75 percent to 50 percent that is transferred to the widow or widower of an officer killed in the line of duty.
-Require law enforcement personnel to work five years longer before being eligible to retire.
-Increase the amount that public safety officers are required to contribute from their salary into their retirement plans at a drastic rate.

“Once again, state government is stealing money away from our hardworking Arizonans to pay for their own tax breaks to their rich and special interest friends,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley. “Instead of working with the men and women who risk their lives every day to preserve our communities and protect and serve our families, Republicans dishonor them with their disregard for our officers’ families.”

Firefighters, police and correctional officers took a balanced approach to fix the bill and have offered amendments, but Republicans voted against them and passed it. Police stated that Republicans’ claims that law enforcement pension systems are on the verge of collapse are incorrect.

“The state constitution already protects public safety officers’ retirement through a voter-approved measure and this bill undermines the will of Arizona voters,” said Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma (District 24). “These are the people on the front lines, protecting our citizens every single day, and they deserve retirement where enjoying basic necessities of life like health care does not turn into a luxury.”


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