TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) –Many Florida teachers — and other state public employees – are hopeful that a judge’s ruling will mean more money in their pockets.
A Leon County judge ruled Tuesday that a law forcing public employees to contribute three percent of their salaries to their pensions is unconstitutional.
Governor Rick Scott, who advocated the law, promised to appeal the judge’s ruling.
Teacher Bob Desabatino is used to making cuts — he teaches culinary arts at Coral Glades High School. But Desabatino said he wasn’t prepared for last year were — what he calls — cuts to his pay.
“The money that they’re taking out my paycheck every two weeks will easily pay for my gas,” Desabatino told CBS 4’s Carey Codd.
Teachers and public employees across South Florida and throughout the state rallied last year. They called the pension contributions a violation of their contracts and said a pension benefit was a main reason many of them opted to work in the public sector.
“Sign on the dotted line,” Desabatino remembers being told. “Come to work for us and these are benefits you’re going to get. Your pay may not be the greatest pay but these are the benefits you’re going to get.”
Desabatino says adding to the financial pain — Broward teachers have not received a raise in 4 years.
Florida Governor Rick Scott disagreed with the judge’s decision. He said it’s only fair for public employees to contribute something to their pensions — like many private sector workers do.
“The judiciary is not supposed to be writing the laws,” Scott told reporters Tuesday in Tallahassee. “That plan is getting more underfunded every year. I want to make sure we fix the plan so individuals can actually rely on it. Because today you can’t rely on that plan. It’s not funded.”
The Governor hopes the judge’s ruling is placed on hold while the issue moves to a higher court. The Governor said that will not affect next year’s state budget.