Is the new "pension reform" really reform? - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Is the new "pension reform" really reform?

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PHOENIX -

Phoenix voters overwhelmingly approved a change to the city's pension program under three propositions titled pension reform, but there's criticism that the reform does little to actually change the system for the thousands of city employees.

Mayor Greg Stanton was thrilled with the turn out and the vote that will change the pension model for new employees hired after July 1.

The new pension plan is modeled after that of state workers pension that many say is expensive, flawed and due for an overhaul.

"It's not pension reform and I think there's a considerable amount of damage done because the public was mislead into believing it was pension reform," said Councilman Sal DiCiccio.

DiCiccio is a critic of the plan, saying it is like using a band-aid to treat a heart attack.

"True pension reform would have put a taxpayer cap...so it protected the taxpayer on liability..this didn't do that.. we tried to get that through, the Mayor and others fought that because the unions were fighting that part of it too."

But Mayor Stanton, who had strong union support during his election says this is a good start to reform.

"I'm aware that some people are going to criticize what was put on the ballot as not strong enough, criticize it as being too strong..I think a fair way of describing it was that our pension reform was a balanced approach..it was balance," he said.

"It provides some savings, so it's hard to vote against, so when people go out there and say, well gosh it passed by big numbers..well it's who's gonna vote against it when it saves a little bit. ..it moves the ball like this much in a field of about 100 yards," said DiCiccio.

DiCiccio says it doesn't even being to scratch the surface of the problem.

"So literally all of the protections that should have gone in on this plan here for the voters didn't happen and the voters weren't given an opportunity to decide between different plans. They were just given one plan."

Stanton adds, "I think you are underestimating the voters of the city of Phoenix. Those who voted are really smart, sophisticated people. They are not..I'll leave it at that."

"I think the voters are intelligent, they just weren't given a choice. They weren't given true pension reform," said DiCiccio.

The city of Phoenix has a debt of over $1 billion on its pension plan that's not funded yet, according to DiCiccio.

He says a true reform will only come through a citizen initiative that will likely encompass statewide pension reform.

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