LB - Engergy Savings 0501 728x90 70%

Home | Classifieds | Place Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Kudos | Obits | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | Villager | Health Directory | Contact Us
The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news May 1, 2016

3/26/2013 8:58:00 AM
Judge rules new requrement for judicial retirement plan is illegal

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- State lawmakers acted illegally in requiring most sitting judges to pay more into their retirement system, another judge has ruled.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Douglas Rayes said judges were effectively made a promise about their pensions when they went on the bench. At that time they were paying 7 percent of their salaries into the Elected Officials Retirement Plan.

The 2011 legislation boosted that to 10 percent, with automatic increases up to 13 percent depending on the plan's performance.

At the same time, the legislation also limited how much pensions can increase, once judges retire, to account for inflation.

Prior to the legislation, judges had been getting annual bumps of 4 percent.

The law changed the method of calculation to limit cost-of-living increases in future years. The result was a 2.5 percent increase in 2011 and none at all in 2012.

Attorney Ron Kilgard said the legislation violates the judges' rights. He said that the contribution rate and the COLA increases were ``legally vested' when the judges took office and cannot be changed.

Rayes agreed.

The ruling is not a complete victory for the approximately 200 affected sitting judges on the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and superior courts of the state's 15 counties.

Rayes noted that a change in law adopted in 2000 specifically said that the benefits for those in EORP do not ``vest' when they are hired but instead at the time they retire. He said that means those who were not already on the bench in 2000 -- more than half in the group -- are not entitled to the same legal protections against higher contributions and smaller future COLA adjustments.

This is actually the second defeat for the state in its bid to rein in the costs of the underfunded Elected Officials Retirement Plan.

In an earlier ruling, Judge John Buttrick ruled in favor of several already retired judges, concluding the state cannot limit their future cost-of-living increases. That case is now before the Arizona Supreme Court.

The court actions come as the Legislature is seeking to wipe out the Elected Officials Retirement Plan entirely, the most generous of all four state plans available.

It allows someone to retire at 80 percent of pay after 20 years; most other state workers are in plans that require close to twice as much time to get to that level.

Part of the result is that EORP has about $700 million in liabilities. The 2011 legislation was an attempt to stop the financial losses.

Scrapping the plan entirely would still leave EORP -- and, ultimately the state -- responsible for benefits for all current and already retired judges. But any new judges would instead be put into a 401(k)-style plan, where both they and the state would contribute equal amounts and each individual's pension would depend on the performance of their investments.

The House already has approved closing down EORP, which also covers lawmakers themselves as well as most other state, county and local elected officials. HB 2608 now awaits action by the full Senate.

ICT - Lamb Auto 0501 180x150

    Most Viewed     Recently Commented
•   Mingus recognized among America's best high schools (3358 views)

•   Blaze destroys RV and jeep Sunday; freeway traffic blocked (2852 views)

•   Horrors of human trafficking hit close to home in Verde Valley forum (with video) (2611 views)

•   Cottonwood gets first bee scare of spring season (2450 views)

•   New subdivision, 500 homes: Vineyards at Cottonwood coming soon (2342 views)

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

Did the lawmakers also act illegally in reducing their own pensions?

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
HSE - Father Son Look a Like Contest
Find more about Weather in Cottonwood, AZ
Click for weather forecast

Submission Links
 •  Submit your feedback about our site

Find It Features Blogs Celebrate Submit Extras Other Publications Local Listings
Classifieds | Place Ad | Galleries | Kudos | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Find Verde Jobs | Contact Us
LB - Home Furnishings Direct 0329 70th Anniversary

© Copyright 2016 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Verde Independent is the information source for Cottonwood and Verde Valley area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Verde News Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Verde News Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved