Florida Retirement System
The debate over the future of state and local pensions pivoted to the Senate on Friday after the House approved a sweeping retirement bill over the objections of Democrats.
The volume on the fourth floor outside the House and Senate chambers is reaching a crescendo. Lobbyists are jockeying for positions in front of the chamber doors as lawmakers emerge for quick pow-wows. It’s all part of the last-minute frenzy as, in the words of powerful Sen. John Thrasher, “bills are dying.”
Changes to retirement plans covering hundreds of thousands of public employees started coming together Thursday on both sides of the Capitol, raising the prospects of success on long-stymied issues.
Florida Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, along with other legislators, want to continue to change the state’s pension program. Speaker Weatherford on Tuesday went as far as asking voters to support the change to help Florida avoid bankruptcy.
The Florida Supreme Court sounded skeptical Friday as it considered a legal challenge to a 2011 law that forced public employees to help pay for their pensions.
A state judge has struck down a new law that required public employees to contribute 3-percent of their income to their retirement pensions.
In the three months since the legislative session ended, the Florida Retirement System has seen a substantial uptick in the number of new retirees.
Despite a lawsuit from the Florida Education Association and countless other public worker unions, Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 2100 into law, meaning all government employees to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to the Florida Retirement System.
Bills in the Florida House and Senate that will shift state pensions into investment accounts and require state and local workers to pay into them began moving forward Thursday.
A Senate panel backed off considerably from a proposal to require state workers to make contributions to their pension fund, exempting many state workers, and cutting back the amount others would have to chip in.