TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) — Florida’s state workers, teachers and many local government employees may soon be paying out of their own pocket to contribute to their own retirement fund.

Gov. Rick Scott wants to cut pension benefits while also requiring state workers, teachers and government employees to contribute 5 percent of their salaries to the Florida Retirement System.

The new Republican governor also said Tuesday he didn’t think he’s politicizing the roll out of his budget recommendations by doing it at a Tea Party event next week in Eustis.

Scott jetted to Naples, his hometown, to announce that his recommended pension changes would save $2.8 billion over two years.

That would help close a potential budget gap that could top $6 billion, including $2 billion in tax cuts Scott is seeking, for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Florida is the only state that doesn’t require at least some employees to contribute to their pension plan.

It would be another financial blow for many, like Miami-Dade teachers, who only make a starting salary of $38,000.

“They are very, very angry. They are very concerned because the number of years of service we give and the expectation of retirement with dignity is being taken away at this point,” said United Teachers of Dade President Karen Aronowitz.

The pension plan’s assets had fallen from a pre-recession peak of $134 billion to $109.5 billion as of last July, but it’s now back up to $125 billion.

Even at the July asset level, the Florida plan had an 87.9 percent ratio of assets to liabilities, one of the highest in the nation for public retirement plans.

Regular state workers accrue retirement benefits at the rate of 1.6 percent of salary annually. Scott has proposed cutting higher rates for senior management employees, elected officials and judges to that level. Special risk employees such a law enforcement officers would be reduced from 3 percent to 2 percent.

The Police Benevolent Association is also shooting down supporters who argue that private sector workers pay their way into retirement plans, and so should those on taxpayer funded public payrolls.

“Private sector never had a problem when they made three times the amount and our public servants risk their lives. It is a reality. We are not talking abstracts. We just buried four officers,” said PBA Executive Director Blanca Greenwood.

Scott also wants to eliminate cost of living adjustments for service earned after July 1. Current retirees won’t be effected by that change.

The governor also has proposed eliminating the Deferred Retirement Option Program. DROP lets retirees return to work while still receiving pensions. It was set up to keep experienced workers, mostly teachers, on the job.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to be receptive to the proposals. Organizers say thousands of GOP-leaning tea party activists may attend the budget unveiling next Monday at a park in Eustis. The small central Florida town is nearly 200 miles from Tallahassee, where governors usually present their spending proposals to the Legislature.

Previous governors have gone on the road, though, to announce various pieces of their budget plans before releasing the proposals in full.

That’s what Scott began doing Monday when he went The Villages retirement community, also in central Florida, to announce proposals for consolidating some state functions including growth management, which he said would save $1 billion over two years.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (15)
  1. State Worker says:

    I have to say this would be a great blow financially to me and my family. I only make $26.555.00 a year now as a Wild land Fire Fighter and Governor Scott is going to take more away from us. Why doesn’t he take major cuts for himself and his cabinet. How can any one survive on$ 26,555.00 any way in Dade County let alone any where in the Southern part of Florida with out a second job??? Cost of living down here is through the roof already. These cuts would force a lot of workers to have to look else where for work PLEASE HAVE MERCY ON US GOVERNMENT WORKERS GOVERNOR SCOTT PLEASE HAVE MERCY !!!!!!!

  2. People says:

    Wow Scott is FULL of it, this guy is looking out for himself and his family. He just want more funds to go in his pocket. To all of you that have voted for him now look what you have done. His ugly self needs to go somewhere and stop coming with stupid ideas. He is trying to steal our money we are not even making enough money man. So y should we have to do all that. Talking about is not fair to the others. Man the others are freaking RICH and we are not so get some better ideas. For example he talking about everybody who are receiving Gov benefits will have to go for a drug test>>>>>>>>>>> What for how about you asked them to go back to school and have a program to help them get a job that will makes it better. you don’t have a clue about helping us you just greedy and want our money to go in your pocket. God don’t like ugly remember that.

  3. Dave Brown says:

    This is why I am Independent both sides lie thru there teeth, don’t forget he wants to make people on Unemployment do Community Service.

  4. Rick Scott is a CROOK!!! says:

    Rick Scott is going to do to the state of Florida exactly what he did to his company – RUIN IT!!! He wants to balance his budget by giving tax breaks to his rich business buddies while screwing over the hard working FRS employees.
    Most insane of his proposals is cutting the benefits of special risk class employees. I guess putting your life on the line, and sometimes giving your life in the performace of your duties means NOTHING to that crook!!
    Hey Scott, how about trimming the fat and eliminating tax breaks for your business buddies instead of screwing over FRS employees?

  5. Karen says:

    If he wishes to run Florida like a private business, then he needs to give the public employees (teachers, police, firefighters, etc.) the annual bonuses and Christmas bonuses … in addition to other perks available in many private sector situations. I have waited 2 years for a raise– even a cost of living adjustment. I don’t have the resources to give any more… and have been waiting for my contractual salary for way too long. I work hard for the pittance I get… I feel totally slapped in the face– and every where else

    1. Carol says:

      I agree with you but don’t forget private companies walk on their elbows for the most part.

  6. Karen says:

    Please remember, too, that DROP is a cost-saving measure. Many teachers in DROP DO retire within five years of signing their DROP papers- rather than working way past their prime because there is no other way for a professional to make ends meet! The money has been invested. The employee does NOT receive the pension while still working– it is banked for him/her

    1. Fred Crump says:

      I agree totally!!!! Drop was a great retirement fund for teachers>I pray to God that the present teachers on drop are not forced out in July!!They have planned their retiremnt around drop and they would have a considerable shortfall leaving early>This would be a slap in the face>Should have voted for Sink!!!!!

  7. Karen says:

    The really, really, REALLY strange thing is– I don’t know ANYONE who DID vote for him!!! Not ALL my friends are Dems, either! We are all scared of him!

    How sad to try ti balance his budget on the backs of the professional working class! Thank you for your post!

  8. Dave Brown says:

    GOVERNMENT CONTROL GOVERNMENT CONTROL, It’s only going to get worse people they want us to be like the Mid Evil times where the King was King and everyone else was Peasants!!!! watch what will happen once Healthcare is full blown….Good bt USA!!!

  9. Dave Brown says:

    Good Bye USA LOL typo

  10. George says:

    Floridians keep voting for the Republicans who only care for the rich and their pockets. They did not learn with Bush who got us in this financial mess. Dont cry, the best is yet to come. This Governor does not know anything about government. He got his millions and his retirement secured already.

  11. Carol says:

    If we are the only State that is doing this then it should change because we need the money and that is a fact it might not be popular but this has to happen the sooner the better.

  12. Dave Brown says:

    I think there is only 4 states left that don’t

  13. Phil says:

    Fine if I have to pay in Keep your damm hands out of it,Rick Scott sucks! and should be booted out now

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Watch & Listen LIVE