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Arizona Senator: Require New Fire, Police Hires To Work 25 Years Before Full Pension Benefits

The head of the Arizona Senate Finance Committee will unveil plans this week to keep one of the state's key pension funds from going broke.

The proposal by Sen. Debbie Lesko would require newly hired police and firefighters to work for 25 years before they're entitled to a full pension. Currently, members of either group can get pensions equal to 50 percent of their pay after just 20 years.

She also hopes to erase the requirement that the retirement system boost benefits 4 percent annually, instead tying them to increases in the Consumer Price Index.

Lesko hopes to put it on the May 17 ballot along with Proposition 123, the education finance measure. But the clock is working against her.

"I have to have it done, the Secretary of State's Office told me, by Feb. 15, I think is the drop­dead latest we have to have it out of both chambers," she said.

A hearing is set for Wednesday.  ­­­

EDITOR'S NOTE: The state pension percentage has been modified to accurately reflect the current amount.

Updated at 9:00 a.m.