The decision by Standard and Poor’s to downgrade Phoenix’s credit rating late last month should have been a wake-up call to city leaders that it is time to get serious about addressing the growing pension and debt crisis slowly swallowing the city budget. Phoenix already has accumulated more than $2.4 Billion in unfunded pension liabilities, and retirement costs continue to escalate for taxpayers.
Action is needed, yet according to the City Manager Ed Zuercher, all is well. After hearing of the downgrade, Mr. Zuercher declared that “A lot of this is not within our control.” Apparently when City Hall accumulates large amounts of debt and spends too much, that is not really their fault.
If billions in debt and a credit downgrade won’t spur our elected leaders into action, nothing will. Real reform will have to come from the voters, and that is why the Arizona Free Enterprise Club is leading the charge on the 2014 Phoenix Pension Reform Act. This citizen’s initiative will be a grassroots effort to reform our out of control pension system by ending pension spiking, reducing costs and unfunded liabilities, and by modernizing our retirement system for future employees while honoring the promises made to current and future retirees.
Mr. Zuercher is wrong, addressing our debt and improving our credit rating IS within our control. The Pension Reform Act will put Phoenix back on the path of fiscal sustainability, instead of down the road of potential bankruptcy.