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Prop 487 fails in Phoenix and beyond

Alex Stevenson~ 11/12/2014

PHOENIX – Proposition 487, the ballot measure over City of Phoenix employee pension benefits, failed to pass in this year’s mid-term election cycle – though according to some it remains clear that the battle for pension reform is far from over.

Catherine Alonzo, a spokesperson for the “No on 487” campaign, said that it was clear voters “were loudly voicing their opposition,” but even she was unsure of how the vote would pan out.

“I just didn’t know what to expect. There hadn’t been any recent polling, however it did show that voters had a decisive reaction to 487,” she said, speaking after the measure had failed – nearly 58 percent voting against to around 42 percent voting for the measure.

The figures, released by the Maricopa County Elections Office, are listed as tentative, while the office “continues to process and tabulate early ballots and provisional ballots.”

The loss seems clear, however, as Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio – a long-time advocate for steep pension reform – released a statement on Nov. 5 detailing the defeat and prospective next steps towards reform.

Repeated attempts to contact representatives from the “Yes on 487” campaign went unanswered, but an argument central to their cause revolves around the ridding of pension spiking, an issue that Alonzo said had already been resolved.

“Pension spiking had been completely eliminated by the mayor and city officials after talks with police and fire unions earlier this year, but I could see why they (“Yes on 487”) would say that – pension spiking is very unpopular with voters,” Alonzo said.

“Our main concerns (past the questions to pension security) were that the measure would cost more than it would save, and that it’s so badly written that both sides agreed it would be litigated in lengthy lawsuits that would end up costing the taxpayer – the only people who benefit there are the lawyers,” Alonzo said.

Bonni Beaupied, an absentee voter in Desert Hills – whose location outside of Phoenix city limits made her ineligible to vote on the measure itself, also questioned the language of the measure.

“I’ve heard that it’s fairly controversial, and wasn’t well drafted,” she said.

This is the same situation for many North Valley voters.

Large swathes of Anthem just border Phoenix city limits, meaning many area voters did not see Prop 487 on their ballots, but concern over the measure was clear just from the number of yard signs and outcry over the security of public safety employees’ benefits.

Anthem resident Traci McCormick echoed these sentiments.

“If I could’ve had a say on it, I’d have been a no vote. I’m married to someone in public safety, it’s important for these people to have benefits available to them. I don’t think putting it into a 401(k) would be valuable,” she said.

McCormick also noted the power that local TV advertisements must have had in swaying votes.

“I think the commercial with the law enforcement benefits being cut off had a strong impact,” she said.