Leaders Discuss Impact of State and Local Issues

Business and community leaders in Tallahassee spent a portion of Tuesday (4-5) afternoon discussing big issues with potential big impacts.

Midway through the Florida Legislative session, Tallahassee Leadership is paying close attention to how what's going on at the capitol could affect our local community.

One of the panelists wanted to point out that he believes that it is a huge myth that state workers have lavish benefits that those in the private sector don't have.

Tallahassee business owner Todd Sperry says just as he was feeling good about his construction company bouncing back from the slumped economy, the 2011 Florida Legislature began.

Sperry said, "It's the unknown is more of the concern than it is as far as the end result. Fear is the biggest factor right now, which really affects our economy because people are afraid to spend money."

Sperry attended Leadership Tallahassee's panel discussion at the Leon County Civic Center Tuesday to get a mid-session update on issues impacting the community.

Leaders say one of the biggest issues--and the first to be discussed--is the proposal to cut state workers, and the requirement for workers to pay some of their retirement.

Floyd Self, Leadership Tallahassee Board Chairman, said, "Not having a raise for five years really hurts, especially given what's happened economically over the last couple of years. Now, to be told that maybe your job is on the hook; perhaps you'll have to be paying more for things that previously you haven't paid directly for, I think could eventually disproportionately affect those employees."

Panelist Rich Templin of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations says the average pension for state employees is about $11,600.

He says that's an average of $3,000 to $23,000 a year less than their counterparts in the private sector.

Panelist Bill Herrle says small business owners have also seen their benefits go away. He says small businesses been self-financed over the last few years in order to keep their doors open.

They also discussed municipalities' roles in protecting water quality and Governor Rick Scott's proposal for three to five percent tax reduction for corporate income taxes.


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