TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — Gov. Rick Scott and Republicans in the Legislature are still unhappy with a judge’s decision to strike down last year’s pension overhaul, with the Senate budget chief declining to rule out defying a court order to repay state employees.
Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford ruled Tuesday that a new law requiring state employees hired before July 1, 2011, to contribute 3 percent to their retirement fund was unconstitutional and violated a state law that essentially declares the pension plan to be a contract between the Legislature and employees.READ MORE: 'Primary Goal Is Active Shooter Response': Miami-Dade Police Priority Response Team Trains For Whatever Comes Its Way
Fulford said the state should repay the workers the contributions with interest. But Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said Wednesday he didn’t think the judge had the authority to force the Legislature to do so — and left open the possibility that it might not.
“This is a very political decision by a very political judge that I think flies in the face of state Supreme Court rulings that clearly affirm the absolute, constitutional authority of the Legislature to make budget decisions,” Alexander said.READ MORE: Rojas Homers And Gets 3 Hits As Marlins Beat Nationals 5-1
Asked if he thought lawmakers should defy the ruling if it were upheld by the Supreme Court, Alexander responded: “I do not believe any court has the authority to dictate how the Legislature spends its money — any court, any executive branch, anybody.” In a radio interview, Scott expressed wonderment at Fulford’s ruling.
“She’s saying this is the law of the land — there’s no way it’s the law of the land,” he said. “The pension fund is dramatically underfunded.” The contributions were used to plug holes in this year’s state budget and are also a part of the spending plan for the next budget year, which begins July 1.
“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”MORE NEWS: Companies Ask For Rate Hikes In Virtual Hearings With Florida’s Office Of Insurance Regulation