Florida lawmakers put budget woes on backs of retirees

FloridaStateCapitol

As the Florida state Senate tries to balance the budget by stripping teachers of pay and the incentive to teach in Florida, they are now going after retirees and pension plans with the help of the state Legislature.

First, the Legislature intends to change the Florida Retirement System by an amendment that would go into effect immediately. Employees hired after July 2011 will be required to pay 1% gross salary into the FRS. The highest salary definition is changed from the highest five years to the average of total career service and salary.

Overtime and other types of compensation (leave, payouts, etc.) would not be included in pension calculations. The retirement age would be raised from 62 to 65 and the acctual rate is dropped for vested employees from 1.6% to 1.44%.

Under the current law retirees get 100% of their final average compensation. These amendments would drop that to 80%!

The sponsors of these bills claim that revising FRS and public employee retirement benefits would save the state money during this time of declining revenues and the need to fund a $3 billion budget deficit.

But the bill, HB 1319, would result in out-of-pocket costs for public education employees who would suffer reduction of their actual retirement benefit. Further, HB 1319 would result in out-of-pocket costs for public education employees who would be required to make increased payroll deductions towards their retirement plan.

It is imperative that this bill, amendments and SB 6 (Florida Senate bill that eliminates tenure and introduces merit pay) are defeated.

Photo: Florida's former state Capitol. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamiedfw/ / CC BY 2.0

 

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