Proponents of a citizen initiative designed to address Phoenix’s pension debt collected enough signatures to send the issue before voters.
In January, the group Responsible Budgets submitted close to 50,000 petition signatures to the city clerk’s office for an initiative it titled the “Responsible Budget Act.” On March 6, 2019, the city clerk verified that the group had met the required threshold of 20,510 valid signatures to place the initiative on the ballot for August 27, 2019.
Phoenix city council member Sal DiCiccio, who is backing the initiative, stated that Phoenix owes $4.4 billion in pension debt. If approved, the initiative would limit city spending in order to pay down pension debt, and it would require annual assessments of the debt. The initiative text states that priority would be given to paying down debt for police and firefighter pensions. Under the initiative, the city would be required to use revenue in excess of spending increases based on inflation and population growth for paying down pension debt, and retirement pensions and retirement healthcare benefits would be ended for elected city officials voted into office after the enactment of the initiative.
Phoenix voters have decided four pension-related measures since 2013.