Arizona Judges Rule To Keep Their COLAs

Next week supplemental briefs on New Jersey’s cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) repeal challenge will be in and the issue of an Arizona case was supposed to be addressed:

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As fate would have it there is an Arizona COLA case that was settled yesterday and Justice Brutinel speaking for the court agreed that he and his brethren should be getting 4% COLAs as explained in these pertinent excerpts from his decision:

HON. FIELDS et al v. ELECTED OFFICIALS RETIREMENT PLAN Opinion of the Court

Arizona Revised Statutes Section 38-818 establishes a formula for calculating pension benefit increases for retired members of the Elected Officials’ Retirement Plan (“Plan”).  In 2011, the legislature modified that formula by enacting Senate Bill (“S.B.”) 1609.  Because that statute diminishes and impairs the retired members’ benefits, we hold that it violates the Pension Clause of Article 29, § 1(C) of the Arizona Constitution.

In 1985, the Arizona Legislature established the Elected Officials’ Retirement Plan to provide pension benefits for elected officials, including judges.

As a result, retired Plan members received only a 2.47% benefit increase in July 2011 (rather than the anticipated 4% increase) and did not receive any benefit increases in 2012 or 2013.

Before we begin our analysis of the legal question presented, we note that the Justices of this Court are not members of the class of retired judges who are appellees in this case.  We are, however, members of the Plan, as are most Arizona state judges, and we will be eligible for benefit increases pursuant to A.R.S. § 38-818 upon our retirement.  No party has asked for our recusal, and, in any event, the rule of necessity applies.

assuming that the doctrine may apply in a case such as this (an issue we need not decide), we decline to award attorneys’ fees in an exercise of our discretion.

If the three judge panel that will decide whether to bring back COLAs for New Jersey pension participants (including themselves) is having qualms about making rulings that will benefit them personally, this should help.

53 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on February 21, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Will reinstating COLAs be retro active? Will this hasten the demise? Not surprising that judges are ruling in favor of themselves. Where will the money come from?

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 21, 2014 at 10:33 pm

      The MONEY will come from Plan assets …. until those assets reach ZERO.

      Than the fun begins. because getting MORE money means cutting other things (with rarely much let to cut) and/or raising taxes …. and THAT will really piss-off the Taxpayers, ESPECIALLY when the reason for the increase is to pay Public Sector pensions FAR greater than they could ever dream of getting.

      Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on February 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm

        Won’t cutting services and cutting funds to programs, education etc. mean less public employees? Don’t mind these attacks toward you, these obvious publics don’t have a clue as to what you are talking about financially or actuarially and what it ultimately means to them when the inevitable change comes. Obviously, they did not excel at math or economics in school or grammar for that matter.

        Reply

        • Posted by truthnolie on February 22, 2014 at 2:19 pm

          Hmmm……apparently you graduated with honors huh???:

          “these obvious publics”…..Word you are looking for is “oblivious”….It’s more than one syllable so that’s why you had trouble with it.

          “Obviously, they did not excel at math or economics in school or GRAMMAR for that matter.” HeeHeeHee…..

          There should also be a comma between “education, etc.” but you apparently missed that block of instruction regarding proper punctuation at Harvard.

          Also, starting a sentence with “Won’t” is considered less than proper but ok for those with limited intelligence….so it’s proper in your case.

          Reply

          • Posted by Anonymous on February 22, 2014 at 3:09 pm

            I meant “obvious” as stated meaning that since your posts are “obviously” against any reform you must be in the public sector. You are correct in that the publics are “oblivious” as well to what the math and economics will ultimately bring.

  2. Posted by Anonymous on February 22, 2014 at 1:05 am

    TL reminds me of the parents of the murdered woman and man in Dead Man Walking. They were desperate to see the murderer put to death. they were sure it would ease their pain and suffering. Guess what it did nothing of kind. Their suffering continued and so will TL s suffering pensions or no pensions. That is what will really piss her off!

    Reply

  3. Posted by haz on February 22, 2014 at 1:12 am

    It seems to me Tough Love doesn’t like us. Don’t hate us because you did not want to be a public worker.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 22, 2014 at 1:25 am

      I absolutely do NOT hate you (or anyone for that matter).

      I just do not want to overcompensate you.

      EQUAL is FINE. MORE is not.

      Got a problem with equal ?

      Reply

      • Posted by truthnolie on February 22, 2014 at 2:33 am

        No Comrade…..we must all share and share alike!

        And yes I have a problem with equal – if someone was smart enough to derive more benefits and a better salary/pension than good for them.

        All of your posts sound the same….they’re dripping with envy, jealousy & bitterness and it seems quite obvious that you made a bad career choice and you despise anyone who has it better or will have it better than you.

        You were probably one of these idiots who passed on a public sector job years ago because you would make more in the private sector but it bit you in the you know what…..now you’re kicking yourself and bitter about what might have been.

        Reply

        • Posted by Tough Love on February 22, 2014 at 2:47 am

          Well, “equal” is all you are entitled to (on the Taxpayers’ dime), I and I’ll continue to strongly advocate for very material Public Sector pension /benefit reductions for the FUTURE service of all CURRENT workers ……….., and won’t be shedding any tears if financial circumstances necessitate reductions in the excessive pension accruals associated with PAST Service.

          Reply

    • I would never want to be a public worker. I have too much ambition and too much smarts to be stuck in a dead end job for 25-30 years. Maybe that’s why they have to up the ante, not attract smart people but to attract morons to do what nobody else wants to do.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tough Love on February 22, 2014 at 1:32 pm

        Here’s a great example of the “Best and Brightest” we keep hearing about …. supposedly justifying their ridiculous compensation packages.

        http://autos.aol.com/article/new-york-police-accident-arrest-victim/

        Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on February 22, 2014 at 9:09 pm

        I would never want to be a public worker. I have too much ambition and too much smarts to be stuck in a dead end job for 25-30 years. Maybe that’s why they have to up the ante, not attract smart people but to attract morons to do what nobody else wants to do.
        Yeah she likes to spend the precious time shown off her great intelligence and ambition in this blog where it makes such a great difference in the lives of the taxpayers., she is all talk and no action ! lmao!!!

        Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on June 8, 2016 at 4:05 pm

        Generalizing, the stuff true geniuses are made of and a touch of prejudice.

        Reply

  4. Posted by Anonymous on February 22, 2014 at 8:16 am

    I was a bus driver maintenance worker and I made substantially less in pay. Initially my pay was more than fifty percent less than the private sector Bus Drivers and upon retiring was still thirty percent less. That is a lot of money over thirty years that i never received if I were to be treated equally. Now I receive 16k per year in pension. I supposed this proves that lumping everyone together does not create an equal situation as TL would suggest. She also describes private companies as treating all their employees equally and fairly. Hmmm, maybe she wants government to have to ability to take away a families entire pension plan as pirvate companies do, leaving that family devastated after an entire lifetime of serving the company. Then the government has to come in and provide for the less fortunate again costing the taxpayers!!!!

    Reply

    • Posted by truthnolie on February 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      She also very conveniently leaves out that if you have a defined pension you will not get Social Security or it will be practically reduced to nothing.

      I challenged her previously to do the right thing and volunteer to give up her right to Social Security when she gets there or offer to take a substantially reduced SS payout…..after all….SS is in trouble, underfunded, danger of collapse, yada, yada just like the pension plans supposedly are (which, by the way, probably wouldn’t be if THE STATE PUT IN THEIR SHARE OVER THE PAST DECADE + !!!!) but I don’t see her taking up the call to reduce or eliminate it…..of course not! She is a hypocrite who wants what she can get and feels she has a right to it (“but….but…I paid into SS all those years and deserve it”) but screw others who have paid into their version of SS (pension plans) which also, by the way, was a MANDATORY pay in upon hiring with no way to opt out. .

      Reply

      • Posted by Tough Love on February 22, 2014 at 1:38 pm

        Quoting ..”She also very conveniently leaves out that if you have a defined pension you will not get Social Security or it will be practically reduced to nothing.”

        All BS …

        (1) nationwide, 70-75% of Public Sector workers ARE in Social Security.
        (2) Public Sector workers who get reduced SS pensions for private Sector worke fall under the SS “Windfall Elimination” provision. The SSA gave it that name for a very good reason ……….. it ELIMINATES an unjust “windfall” for the recipient.

        Reply

        • Posted by truthnolie on February 22, 2014 at 2:23 pm

          Ummm…..no…

          We are referring to NJ employees not NATIONWIDE! – Hardly any NJ pe’s will get SS….you know that but are obfuscating the issue by posting stats that have nothing to do with THIS conversation about the NJ pension plans & employees.

          Also….still no commitment to give up/reduce your SS to help salvage the plan…..I thought not!

          Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on February 22, 2014 at 3:10 pm

        Not true, teachers and other school employees get SS

        Reply

  5. TL, I think you have hit a nerve. Do you notice how these publics come on here all worried and trying to convince you but probably themselves that they will received pensions and health care for the rest of their natural lives and beyond. I actually find it humorous. Of course they have nothing worthwhile to present in terms of reform for the long term so they must resort to personal attacks. I’m sure they don’t have any idea as to what is discussed on this blog other than they will not be getting pensions at some point. Better to reform now that to keep stringing the puppets along with empty promises. Do they really believe that this is just going to go away? Too funny.

    Reply

    • Posted by truthnolie on February 22, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      MJ = Another enraged, jealous moron who can’t come to grips with the fact that public employee’s (which I’m sure he feels are all below him….kinda makes it even more enjoyable) will enjoy a lifetime pension & benefits while he has to slave away day after day hoping his 401K will be enough for him when (if??) he can retire.

      Instead of posting here and trying to get into Tough Love’s pants he should be out trying to get a 2nd job…..McDonald’s is always hiring and something tells me that you wouldn’t be overqualified.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tough Love on February 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm

        Clearly another example of the “Best and Brightest”

        Reply

        • Posted by truthnolie on February 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm

          I agree wholeheartedly…..NJ police, firefighters, teachers, etc. are the Best of Us and should be rewarded and given more than private sector slugs….glad you agree.

          By the way…..thanks for my $100k pension & benefits for life!

          Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on February 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm

        I’m not slaving at all. Quite the opposite. You make quite the assumptions. Why are posting if you are so convinced? You seem quite vested in the discussion for being so sure. Good luck to you:)

        Reply

        • Posted by truthnolie on February 22, 2014 at 3:32 pm

          And you seem so sure that the plans will fail……Judgement time is near…NJ & Fat Boy Gov. (despite hinting that he will try to get out of it) will have to come up with $1.7 BILLION to put into the plan this year (after MANY years of putting close to nothing in while PE’s contributed and that will go up every year).

          It’s a deal your Chubby Patron Saint made to get the ILLEGAL reforms through but he got the deal and now will have to pay up. By 2018 the estimated pay in will be $5.5 BILLION…..no way to make that without increased taxes (gas tax, sales tax to 8%, etc.)

          What you and your girlfriend TL are in a rage about is that more will come out of your pockets in taxes in order to make the payments….. apparently you’re doing ok since you’re not “slaving” but don’t want anyone to do as well or better than you and want to keep PE’s beneath you.

          It’s a mixture of extreme envy, chagrin & greed on your part and that of your friend. Don’t be so upset though…..I’ll gladly throw some change at your feet when you trying to make ends meet without the benefit of a lifelong pension.

          Reply

          • The plans won’t fail but will be significantly reformed. There simply will not be any choice. I trust in the laws of economics and mathematics and the politicians who will be more than willing to throw you all under the bus. It’s only a matter of when. This is not a problem specific to NJ, it is nation wide and global. People have been writing about the pension crisis for years both at the municipal, state and federal level. There simply are not enough people to tax and NJ is already the highest in the country.

          • Posted by Tough Love on February 22, 2014 at 11:57 pm

            Extreme layoffs/outsourcing will come before material Tax increases.

            But throwing their younger, shorter service Union “brothers” is of no concern to the greedy, older, long-service workers who control the Union.

            Younger workers ….. give it some thought …. you’ll be thrown “under the bus”. Take back control of the Union and end the older workers theft (of YOUR contributions and YOUR pension) before it’s too late for YOU.

  6. Publics, I have an idea for you. Why don’t you rally up the troops and take on all of the double dippers, triple job holders, welfare queens, corrupt politicians and unethical union reps and demand change and oust them from office. Then you can take on all of the bogus disability cheats both public and private, scammers, chronic unemployment cheats, and everybody else sucking off the system. Let’s not forget the illegals, food stamp scammers, all around bums and bankruptcy cheats. There would be plenty of money to go round for everybody who works.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      I have a more productive suggestion for the YOUNGER, SHORTER-SERVICE Public Sector workers ….

      EDUCATE YOURSELF … you are being ripped-off by those already retired and those soon to retire who (via their excessive and vastly underfunded pensions) are or will be taking ALL of the assets in YOUR pension Plan, including YOUR contributions.

      That rich pension will be LONG GONE before you get there. Why do you continue to let those “brothers” rip you off ? Do you not realize that THEY are throwing YOU “under the bus” ?

      Wise up. You need to change this before you’re left with nothing. Future service via a 401K-style DC Plan would be YOURS to keep, and they couldn’t steal it.

      Reply

      • Posted by truthnolie on February 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

        Change it how exactly….by writing the politicians??? HA!

        You make it sound like the former public worker’s/retirees came up with this system….they didn’t….every public employee was FORCED by the state as a condition of hire to join and mandatorily contribute a part of there salary into the funds. There was never any option to opt out or not take part (nor will there be in the future no matter how much you rant & rave)

        I’ll keep saying it no matter how hard you try to pit PE’s against each other ….ALL of them have contributed part of their salary to the funds…..the only NON contributor has been the STATE OF NJ…..now that’s about to change.

        I can’t wait till Tues. when you’re Knight in Shining Lard has to give his budget address and tries to assign blame in some way…..hopefully he mentions something about “tightening the belt” which will allow for some comic relief, esp. if the show him in profile…heeheehee,

        Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on February 22, 2014 at 8:07 pm

        There is no mechanism for the state to reduce pensions. It can’t be done. Talking about it is a waste of time. Just because the state didn’t make it’s payments for most of the last 20 years, doesn’t excuse the debt, it must be paid.

        I find the constant bashing by TL interesting. Were you fired from a state job? There’s clearly got to be a reason for the # of posts you make in which you make generalizations regarding pay, benefits, and debt which you are not qualified to make. Please stick to the facts.

        Reply

        • Of course there is a mechanism for the state to reduce pensions: fiat.

          And they’ve done it (i.e. the elimination of COLAs) though it will probably be reversed in which case I see them going after retiree health benefits.

          Reply

          • Posted by Anonymous on February 22, 2014 at 8:43 pm

            John. Wouldn’t the taxpayers be able to repudiate the debt since there is no state constitutional law protecting pensions? I agree that the health benefits are the low hanging fruit.

          • There is contract law and after the COLA gets reinstated they won’t be going after pensions for a while. I see them working with (over) the actuaries to keep giving low-ball numbers on the pension and then slicing those further by possibly keeping the 3/7ths in place for a couple more years instead of moving up to 4/7ths. Or maybe they’ll go to 4/9ths to throw people off.

            Retiree health benefits will be where they cut as they go the way of Detroit and start handing out stipends to spend on Obamacare.

          • Posted by Tough Love on February 23, 2014 at 12:05 am

            COLAs are tied to PAST Service, so a Court reversal is still addressing a PAST Service issue.

            I believe the issue of FUTURE Service reductions (for COLA as well as the basic formula factors) for CURRENT workers is yet to be definitively resolved.

            Union chest-beating means nothing. Of course, I have no idea how we are supposed to get NJ judges to fairly adjudicate such an issue considering the obvious conflict of interest.

  7. Posted by dentss dunnagan on February 22, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Newe Jersey’s best and finest …….hope he keeps that pension ..http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/investigators&id=9440401#

    Reply

  8. Posted by Javagold on February 22, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    a generational storm is coming and this one is going to be messy……the young around the globe are SICK OF THE CRONY CORRUPTION !!!!

    Reply

  9. Posted by Anonymous on February 22, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Do yourselves a great favor, ignore this ignoramus the way India ignores the terrorists because all they want is publicity. She is lonely and wants attention. Starting today lets just ignore and she will shrivel up, unless of course she is already shriveled.

    Reply

  10. Posted by truthnolie on February 22, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    “Retiree health benefits will be where they cut as they go the way of Detroit and start handing out stipends to spend on Obamacare.”

    JB….Do you mean you see them going after the health benefits of everyone (incl. those already retired) or only those not yet retired/vested??

    I would think they’d have a hell of fight going up against those already retired as the benefits could be seen as a condition/agreement upon separation when those employees retired.

    Granted Detroit is pulling out a lot of stops but again that is still a City plan not one maintained by the State.

    Reply

    • It’s all about what the state can afford and if they get a bigger bill for pensions they can ignore it like they’ve been doing for years, to varying degrees, or focus on health benefit cuts for everybody including retirees who will either see their checks reduced as a bigger copay for their benefits or get bigger checks and be told to get their own health benefits.

      I don’t see Christie or anybody in the legislature caring (or knowing) as much about pension funding as they do about budget balancing (on paper) so they work backwards and whatever they have penciled in for retiree benefits is supposed to take care of those costs. If they are forced to up the pension number then they have no other option but to cut health benefits.

      Reply

      • Posted by truthnolie on February 23, 2014 at 12:11 am

        I don’t know…..seems like trying to cut retirees benefits or increase co-pays drastically will be a long drawn out battle in the courts costing even more $$$$ in legal challenges to the State & everyone involved.

        Changing it for those still working/not vested/new hires would seem more workable….then, through either current retirees hitting Medicare age or dying off in future years, savings would be realized as the State would get them off the books at a fairly predictable rate (i.e.; using personnel records they could get a fairly close idea on when members were to come off the State health plans and go into Medicare and also have the age parameters to estimate life expectancies for the pension plans).

        Reply

        • Posted by Tough Love on February 23, 2014 at 12:38 am

          Quoting …”…. will be a long drawn out battle in the courts costing even more $$$$ in legal challenges to the State & everyone involved.”

          Don’t you just love the Trough-feeders logic ….. do nothing because it’s expensive to fight this gross injustice to Taxpayers.

          Reply

        • Posted by Tough Love on February 23, 2014 at 3:36 pm

          Quoting …”Changing it for those still working/not vested/new hires would seem more workable”

          You’re sounding more and more like a RETIRED Public Sector porker …. MORE THAN WILLING to through your younger “brothers” “under-the-bus”, so you have to give up NOTHING.

          You should be proud !

          Reply

          • Posted by Anonymous on February 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm

            you are a real ass, you should be proud! Larry Flynnt may pick you as A$$h**e of the month someday and your dream will have been realized.

          • Posted by Tough Love on February 23, 2014 at 4:31 pm

            Responding to Anonymous ……

            What’s the matter … Can’t take the truth ?

  11. Everybody replies were well received and whatever happens only god knows.
    I don’t like to tell people i retired at 49 y/o from F.D. because in today’s environment we are the bad guys. I don’t have enough quarters for SS in the right time frame. You think NJ it bad PA is 10 times worst they got to paid for health Insurance and new hires get 50 % pension i think at 20 years of service. I am bless my wife is a nurse & we only have 2 children and live below our meets.

    Reply

  12. Posted by George on February 23, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Here is a new phrase I discovered: “pension heist”

    I found it here:

    Rahm Emanuel Wants Springfield to Raise Property Taxes
    http://www.championnews.net/?p=99640

    But an internet search indicates 29,000 references to it.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Eric on February 23, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    John:
    I do believe that you are correct regarding retiree health benefits. The videos you posted, regarding the oral argument, mentioned that the non-forfeitable right does not apply to post retirement health care benefits, but does apply to the cost of living adjustment, since the cost of living adjustment is not listed as an exception in the statute.
    I also believe truthnolie is not a public employee or a prior public employee. If he or she were collecting a $100K a year pension with health benefits, he or she would not be broadcasting that fact, and, would not brag about this to taxpayers in such an immature manner.
    I believe that he or she is a “nonpublic” writing to inflame the nonpublics against the publics. The posting was probably a smashing success.
    Eric
    PS I also agree that an Obamacare stipend may be the solution in NJ unless pressure mounts to bring about a long overdue “single payer” health care system to the US. Contrary to what you may hear on the news, it works quite well in many parts of the world. I travel all of the time and engage many in conversations about their health care coverage.
    So far, the corruption in Washington and the payoffs by the insurance companies to Congress are far too powerful to combat. People will never “wake up” in that most do not even know what a single payer system is at all.

    Reply

    • Eric,

      Completely agree. In what seems like a past life I worked at a casualty insurance company and regulators are completely captured – as are politicians including NJ where premium taxes keeps any would-be reformers in line.

      Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 23, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Eric, I too doubted the $100K pension, but I do believe he’s a Public Sector worker/retiree.

      I sense that many feel that they above poor financial situation of their Plans (and the downturn in the economy and it’s impact on the Private Sector), and that it’s entirely the Taxpayers’ problem to deal with, not theirs.

      Reply

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