Category Archives: pension

Dispersed Power or Central Authority

Term limits is one of the most divisive political issues in existence. People love term limits or they hate term limits.

On one side we have supporters of term limits. They want citizen legislators, accountable officials, responsive government, and power dispersed into the hands of many to avoid authoritarian government. This is the citizenry, the general populace, republicans, democrats, greens, libertarians, about 75%-80% of everyday people support term limits.

On the other side of this divisive issue we have those who oppose term limits. They want aggressive legislators who know the system, legislators who answer to them, government that gives them advantages, and more time for their people in office. This is the elected few, the lobbyists, the two party establishment, a minority of about 15% who directly benefit from controlling legislation and tax dollars.

To be sure, there are some crossovers, citizens who oppose term limits and officials who support term limits. But between these two sides division is clear. People who want power dispersed, and people who want more time (always more time) in control.

The establishment opposes term limits by talking about voter choice and elections, they downplay the incumbent advantage and political machines. They claim every election people choose to keep electing the same candidates because they really love those candidates. In Kennesaw, Georgia we can see a typical example.

From the Marietta Daily Journal:

Kennesaw Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh said Thursday she won’t run for re-election, but she has three policy changes she wants to see before leaving at the end of the year.“My philosophy has always been that we’re never meant to be career politicians. That’s kind of what the country was founded on was part-time legislators. You’re supposed to come in, accomplish your job and groom someone else or encourage someone else and then move on,” Eaton-Welsh said.

Eaton-Welsh brought her proposal to Mayor Mark Mathews and the other council members Wednesday evening at a work session and received pushback from Mathews.

“You don’t think the voters already control that by leaving us in or taking us out of office?” Mathews asked Eaton-Welsh.

Eaton-Welsh said because incumbents are heavily favored in elections, “I really don’t think that they do.”

Mathews responded: “Wow.”

Mayor Mathews may be a great guy, but if he’s being honest and doesn’t think incumbents are heavily favored he’s out of touch with reality.

Term limits is very divisive, and it’s also very lopsided, voters support term limits by huge margins. If only politicians were in it for the people rather than the power.

 

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Filed under Ballot Question, charter amendment, pension, politicians, Term limits

Phoenix Pensions On The Ballot Again

voteagain

Pensions are going back on the ballot in Phoenix, the third time 4 years.

Phoenix has pension problems. The city employees pension system is seriously underfunded. It all comes down to math and politics. Numbers don’t lie but politicians do. To avoid owning up to the pension problem the city council is sending another short term fix to the voters.

Phoenix voters were asked in 2012 to approve a pension reform package. The 2012 package resulted in new hires paying half of the required pension contribution. A good idea, but because the pension fund is seriously underfunded the annual required contribution is higher than it has been in past years. This resulted in new hires being required to contribute 15% of their pay to the pension fund (it’s expected to go up even more,) this is on top of social security withholding and other paycheck deductions.

In 2014 petitions were collected for a ballot initiative to require new employees be enrolled in a 401k style defined contribution system. The city council opposed the measure and  wrote a deceptive ballot title. Police and fire fighters who would not have been impacted by the measure campaigned against it. Measure 487 was defeated last November.

Now the city council is proposing another pension reform ballot question. The new proposal will cap pensionable income for new employees at $125,000 per year, and cap employee contributions to the pension system at 11%. This is not going to fix the problem. Unfortunately for taxpayers, politicians are more interested in kicking the can down the road than providing a sustainable retirement option to city employees.

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Filed under Ballot measures, Ballot Question, pension