Florida Retirement Reform Passes First Hurdle

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By the narrowest of margins, the Florida Senate Community Affairs Committee by a 5-4 vote passed a potential change to the state worker retirement system.

Under the plan, new employees starting after July 1, 2015 would have to sign up for the new cash balance plan.

The new plan guarantee a 2 percent annual return on employee investment.

Special risk workers like police and firefighters could stay with the current plan or choose the new one.

"We're trying to change future unfunded liability but it was a matter other states had done it that way so we're not trying to reinvent the wheel," said bill sponsor State Senator Wilton Simpson.

Simpson argues the current retirement system had a $19-billion unfunded liability last year.

It's increased to $21.6-billion this year.

And each year state government is propping up the system with an additional $500-million and county governments are adding $300-million.

But Simpson heard opposition and concerns from his fellow committee members from both parties.

"It would result in a 40 percent lower retirement benefit to state workers," said State Senator Darren Soto.

A study on the impact of the proposal is pending.

It's expected other committees will examine the proposal before possible votes in the senate and house.

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