AZ Judge, Politician Pension Could Get Funding via Judicial Fee Bump

Employer contribution increase, COLA reductions are also being discussed.

A House-approved bill could help preserve the Arizona Elected Officials’ Retirement Plan (EORP) by hiking up judicial fees for state residents, AZCentral reports.

Voted in favor by the House Banking and Insurance Committee Monday (a 7-1 landslide), HB 2564 aims to boost 55 Superior Court and 15 justice base court fees while slightly reducing the distribution formulas for domestic-violence, child abuse prevention, and county general services. Should the bill become a law, fees will increase from $2 to $18, subject to which court service is used.

According to Supreme Court Government Affairs Director Jerry Landau, the bill will rake in a maximum $2.5 million for the EORP. As for the reduced formulas, Landau noted that the social services revenue will not be affected due to the raised fees.

The single “no” vote came from Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, who, according to AZCentral, felt that all the bill did was try to fix the politician and judge pension’s funding problem with hidden taxes.

Other ideas being considered by the legislature was raising employer contributions to roughly 61% and reducing cost-of-living benefits from 4% to 2%.

Last year, a percentage of court fees contributed $8.6 million to the EORP, which is managed by the $9 billion Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, which also handles the pensions of corrections officers. However, lavish benefits (which allow some elected officials to collect more money in retirement than they made in office) combined with poor investment decisions, questionable court rulings, and odd legislative decisions (possible solutions being thrown out in court) have caused the EORP to suffer. According to AZCentral, the fund could go bankrupt in under 10 years.

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