Laws 1950, Chapter 59, First Special Session created the Judges’ Retirement Fund, which ultimately merged with EORP. The first incarnation of EORP was created by Laws 1981, Chapter 284. These two programs were merged by Laws 1985, Chapter 309. Statutory authority is found at Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 38-801 to 38-822.
The Elected Officials’ Retirement Plan provides a uniform, statewide retirement system for elected officials in Arizona. State and county elected officials, including judges, are eligible to participate. Other political subdivisions may become a part of EORP by joinder agreement. The Public Safety Personnel Retirement System Board of Trustees administers EORP.EORP is funded by cost-sharing contributions from members and members’ employers, as well as monies derived from a share of court fees.The Board of Trustees provides oversight for investments pursuant to A.R.S.§ 38-803. Although the Board is not responsible for the actions or omissions of the local boards, it has the authority to seek review or rehearing in order to protect the System as a whole. The Board of Trustees is made up of seven members, appointed by the Governor to five-year terms.
Legislation adopted in 1950 provided a pension for judges of the Supreme Court and the Superior Court who had at least 20 years of service at age 65. The amount of the pension was initially established as two-thirds of the salary at the time of retirement from the bench.Additionally, any judge with at least 10 years of service who had to retire for medical reasons (mental or physical) could be awarded a pension by the Governor upon petition.If a retired judge received retirement pay, the Supreme Court could call on that judge to aid the Supreme or Superior Court as the Supreme Court deemed fit which could include examining the facts of a case, examining citations, or preparing opinions for the court. Additionally, retired judges receiving a pension could not practice law privately or engage in any other public service for compensation.
A fund was created consisting of 25% from each of the following: the county library fund from each county in Arizona, monthly fees collected by the Clerk of the Superior Court, and monthly fees collected by the Clerk of the Supreme Court. Additionally, 5% was deducted from the salary of each Supreme Court and Superior Court judge. The State Treasurer oversaw the fund. See Laws 1950, Chapter 59, First Special Session.
Laws 1957, Chapter 25 provided for any judge with at least 12 years of service to receive a pension, although it was proportionate to a pension for 20 years of service (i.e. 12/20=60%, so only 60% of a normal pension was given).Laws 1965, Chapter 91 included judges of the Court of Appeals within the retirement act and provided judges’ widows with a pension of one-third of the judge’s salary. Additionally, judges retiring for medical reasons were required to serve 5 years, rather than 10 years, in order to be eligible for a pension.
Laws 1976, Chapter 15 moved the judges’ retirement fund into an account managed by the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS). As a result, the PSPRS fund manager replaced the State Treasurer as the manager of the account.Laws 1981, Chapter 284 created the EORP. Previously, elected officials had been members of the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS). As a result, all unencumbered monies paid into ASRS by elected state or county officials or on their behalf was transferred to the EORP fund, now part of the PSPRS. Elected officials were entitled to a pension amounting to half their final annual salary, provided they had at least 15 years of service. For those with fewer than 15 years of service, their pension would decrease by 3.5% for each year below the 15 year mark (i.e. 13 years of service meant a pension of only 43% of an official’s final annual salary). A similar increase to an elected official’s pension occurred for each year of service beyond 15 years.
Laws 1982, Chapter 261 repealed and replaced the changes made by Laws 1981, Chapter 284, creating a comprehensive framework for EORP. This included, but was not limited to, optional forms of payment, modified powers and duties for the PSPRS fund manager, and an exemption from state taxes for contributions and benefits.Laws 1985, Chapter 309 repealed Articles 3 (Judge’s Retirement Plan) and 3.1 (EORP) of Title 38, Chapter 5 and added a new Article 3 that combined both plans into a new EORP. The fund manager of the PSPRS continued to administer the new EORP fund. The cap on annual compensation also increased significantly to $90,000 or 100% of the member’s average compensation across their 3 highest earning consecutive years, whichever was less.
Laws 2007, Chapter 87 allowed courts to issue a domestic relations order in judicial proceedings for an “annulment, dissolution of marriage or legal separation that provides for the distribution of community property” that sends part or all of a pension payment to an alternate payee.Laws 2010, Chapter 200 replaced the PSPRS fund manager with a board of trustees.Sources
- Session Laws
- Laws 1950, Chapter 59, 1st Special Session
- Laws 1957, Chapter 25
- Laws 1965, Chapter 91
- Laws 1976, Chapter 15
- Laws 1981, Chapter 284
- Laws 1982, Chapter 261
- Laws 1985, Chapter 309
- Laws 2007, Chapter 87
- Laws 2010, Chapter 200
- Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System annual reports (consult for year by year changes). See www.psprs.com