Bryan Jeffries, the chief of Arizona's firefighters' association, tells the New York Times that the state's firefighters and police officers should volunteer to cut their own pension benefits. Jeffries says emergency workers have a special obligation to protect the public not only from physical peril, but also from financial ruin. Cutting pensions for firefighters and police officers would help save their woefully underfunded retirement plan and bail out towns and cities struggling to keep up with their mandated contributions, he says.
“It is critical for our state, for the taxpayers and for the next generation that will be here long after we are gone, that we repair this,” said Jeffries, whose group, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, is not a union but works on political issues relevant to its membership. His unusual proposal has been a touchy subject for many of the people whose pensions would be cut. But among the 236 employers in Arizona's $6.1 billion Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, which covers about 31,000 active and retired emergency workers, just 39 have fully funded pension plans. An additional 21 plans are less than 40 percent funded.