State Pension Debate Wages On

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

Tallahassee, Florida - April 8, 2011 -

Teachers, police, firefighters and state employees continue to fight against changes to their pension plans.

In Tallahassee Thursday, both the House and Senate moved forward with budgets calling for different levels of pension contributions, but some contributions seems to be a foregone conclusion.

Anger has been building since Rick Scott first announced he wanted a five percent pension contribution from employees who haven't had a raise in as many years. It has been 36 years since the state took over all funding of the pension fund. Many see the contributions as a foregone conclusion.

"It seems like the word of the day up here is contributions".

Under the House plan, everyone would pay 3% of their salary. The 3% would take more than 700 million in buying power out of public employee's hands.

The Senate has a tiered plan:

2 percent for anyone making twenty five thousand or less

4 percent for salaries between 25 and 50 thousand

and 6 percent for anyone making more than 50 k

Even moderate Republicans like Senator Paula Dockery (R-Lakeland) balked at the plan during floor debate.
"I'm not to be able to support a budget that balances itself on the backs of our state employees".

The budget containing the contribution requirements passed 33 to six.
What happens next is that House and Senate leaders will spend the next three or four weeks negotiating, trying to decide if the pension contribution is as low as two percent or as high as six percent.

Ritch Workman has been handling the House plan. For now, he's not budging on a firm 3%.
"Currently, their tiered plan is, I think, more harmful than the three percent across the board".

And while negotiations continue, public employees plan to keep the pressure on.

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  • by Annie on Apr 10, 2011 at 03:13 PM
    The Governor and Legislature are driving down labor costs to make it more desirable for businesses to relocate here. Guess what that means for the unemployed who will now have to compete with not only other private sector employees, but state employees as well. The pool just dropped by 2%, 4%, and 6% respectively. State employees are paid on average less than private sector. The more competition, the lower the pay. An employer can now hire folks even cheaper than before - IF they are hiring. There are state workers all over Florida who will no longer be able to afford private services. Some will become unemployed (there are a significant number of jobs cut in the budget proposals as well). Now what does Florida's economy look like? This is bigger than just Tally.
  • by smh Location: florida on Apr 10, 2011 at 01:05 PM
    I am a state worker, and I am underpaid. Some state workers, are way overpaid, but not a correctional officer, a teacher,and several others. the list goes on. I am a teacher in the state of florida. My job is suppose to start at 8am, and be over at 3pm.But we all know that isn't true. In order for your children to be successful, I work on my days off tutoring our children, I also tutor children to help them increase their overall composite score on the act test. This happens after hours, at the same school I teach at, but am I paid xtra. not a chance. there are so many others who go over and beyond the call of duty as state workers. I have been teaching for 4 years, I am only paid 32000 a year, but i have to pay for health insurance for my family and I. I also have to pay for all the stuff that the kids in the tutoring program uses,or need. I care for the children I teach. So, I empty my pockets and give my time back to the state. The work of a good teacher, is never finished.We are always on duty, just as law enforcement.I say, that people like Rick Scott and his gang, they don't know what it's like out here in the real world. They have plenty of money, and they keep it at the top, with them. One day in our shoes and it will probably make them insane. Actually caring for another,using your own to ensure others succeed. Not only using your own, but sometimes, it's your last. Will they use their last dime on a child that doesn't belong to them? Do they care that there are teachers out there that are working like this. It is my greatest desire to see our children succeed an accomplish all of their hopes and dreams that are positive. Shouldn't some them at the top care, or show their concerns. It's not really about money, but, teachers are so underpaid until it is rediculous.
  • by State Worker on Apr 9, 2011 at 07:41 PM
    You're an idiot YaYa ... what does state workers have to do with John Marks????????? Go read a book. Anyway, I'm a state worker and I work VERY hard ... I barely maek $30,000 .... I don't get comp time or over time, and I have 3 kids. I don't get any type of public assistance and I work hard to provide for my family. Tell me .... where's the high pay that you guys keep talking about. Get a grip and get real. How about you guys that keep talking smack start looking at the salaries of Gov Scott's employee's that he brought with him and the 24 year old Bureau Chief's that keep getting appointed ... why don't you look at that!!!! Look at the people brought on my all these new agency heads, and start your cuts there!!!
    • reply
      by Janet on Apr 10, 2011 at 03:14 PM in reply to State Worker
      It doesn't appear that YaYa is an idiot at all. she was being sarcastic and saying sure State employees should forego their benefits so the money can go to the likes of people like John Marks. I, too, am a State worker, barely making $30.000 (a whopping $.22/hour I made in the same position 15-years ago in the private sector. The only thing that swayed me to work for the State was the benefits. Its like being promised certain things yo take a job and then they change the contract without your approval. Looks like we'll be receiving a pay cut. And, in fact, that's what it is. However, the Gov's office and the legislature should lead the way by cutting their own salaries and the pay of their assistants by the same amount. Make the legislators pay for their health cate out of pocket. then maybe this would all seem a little more fake. The public can't see the forest for all the little trees.
  • by Ya Ya Location: Tallahassee on Apr 8, 2011 at 06:54 PM
    All state employees should forgo their pensions and contribute to the John Marks " I made a mistake campaign." There is no way that hard working, tax paying state workers should be allowed to receive any benifits until our Mayor has enough to satisify his greed. State workers do not need healthcare as much as our Mayor needs 66,000 for his support. Oops, forgive me...we need to eliminate our pensions for his legal bills. ( sigh )
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 9, 2011 at 09:48 AM in reply to Ya Ya
      John marks doesn't work for the State. You comment then becomes more rantings of an ignorant person.
  • by mike on Apr 8, 2011 at 06:44 PM
    Rick Scott has done a good job of splitting Florida in half, public vs private workers, some things most people dont see is the state worker that has to work 10-16 hours a day but not allowed to make overtime, where its a law that private workers are payed time and a half for anything over 8 hours, or a state worker having to work a double shift on Christmas morning because of working under staffed, when the private sector is at home with their family, or trying to get ready to go to work on the midnight shift in the middle of a hurricane, (two officers were killed during hurricane Ivan by a tornado while getting ready for work) while private sector was shut down and in sheltors, There are some good state workers and some sorry ones, and needs a little shaking up to seperate the butter from the cream, just dont loose too much of the creame in the process
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 9, 2011 at 09:47 AM in reply to mike
      Most businesses when shut down still have things that have to be done. The offices at a power plant may be closed, but the plant operators still have to work. The Officers are the same in this way. Even if the State Government shuts down, many safety officers (State Troopers) and others still have to show up for work. This nullifies one of your comments. The point about working over 40 hrs a week - it becomes the workers choice to continue working long hours, or quitting. The employee should get comp time, and they should request to take it. At some point I would think a talk with their supervisors and management is in order to keep the workload manageable.
    • reply
      by me on Apr 9, 2011 at 10:12 AM in reply to mike
      mike--state workers some make over time some get com. time i am a state worker and recive double time and a half for working christmas or the same in com. time and hurricanes and tornados kill any one ivan killed private wookers also,get real.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Apr 9, 2011 at 07:48 PM in reply to me
        Teachers make no overtime, regardless of how late they stay for PTO, Academic Help Nights, planning, grading, etc. Comp. time is rare and has restrictions, so is just not worth it. Also, all state workers were hired WITH THE UNDERSTANDING that they would at least have a decent pension, even though the pay was low. Changing it now for people who have devoted so much time and energy should be considered a breach of contract.
      • reply
        by mike on Apr 10, 2011 at 08:05 AM in reply to me
        Well whatever state agency you work for that pays double time and a half for working christmas, needs to be looked at, and as far as overtime, i worked in the private sector, the low pay was made up for with overtime, a 12 hour day you would be payed for 4 hours at time and a half, so a state worker making $10 an hour X 12 hours would be $120 dollar a day, privat sector worker making $10 dollars an hour X 12 hours would be $140 dollars a day, and yes Ivan killed several people, just saying some had the oppertunity to go to shelters, but law enforcement and prisons still had to run, and no we did not get payed overtime for having to work over, we were told to just take it off later in the week at the supervisors descretion,
  • by Time to grow up Location: Tallahassee on Apr 8, 2011 at 05:59 PM
    Most people who are financially responsible save more than that from each pay check to take care of themselves in old age , most Americans live beyond their means and don't want to give up designer jeans and eating out to save for their retirement now they are being forced to save to help take care of them selves stop banging on your high
  • by Bertram Gus Dickus Location: North Florida on Apr 8, 2011 at 03:41 PM
    Let me spell it out for all you members of the Church of the Private Sector, Tallahassee Sect: As the combined salary/benefit package of public servants decreases, all those private employers in the region will decrease their compensation packages in lock step, because they can. Then, as public servants leave their poorly-compensated positions and compete for those scarce private-sector jobs, there will be further downward pressure on private wages and benefits. Supply and demand, surely you've heard of it?
    • reply
      by TJ on Apr 9, 2011 at 09:08 AM in reply to Bertram Gus Dickus
      This is correct. Public and private often compare to set standards for pay and other compensation. I don't think I would use "lock step" to describe but that can sometimes be the case.
  • by let em complain Location: state on Apr 8, 2011 at 02:14 PM
    when no one answers the phone, oh well !
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 8, 2011 at 03:44 PM in reply to let em complain
      Someone will answer the phone, you just will not get any answers from them (or totally wrong answers), or you won't be able to understand their ebonics.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 8, 2011 at 10:35 AM
    The Governor gave us 2 reasons for requiring workers to put money into their retirement. 1 was to cut the budget. 2 was because the retirement fund was not fully funded. The question I have is which one are they going to fix. If state workers put in money in addition to what the state does, the the fund will grow and eventually become fully funded, but doesn't decrease spending. If the workers put in money, and the state money was cut, then there would be a cut in spending, but the fund will not grow, and will remain under funded. Which one is it?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 8, 2011 at 11:27 AM in reply to
      Great point! Wish the press would ask that question of him and the Legislature.
    • reply
      by anonymous on Apr 8, 2011 at 02:23 PM in reply to
      Let me get this straight... as it is now, taxpayers pay money to the state agencies to pay for retirement. But taxpayers paying money to workers to turn around and pay money towards retirement is better?
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Apr 8, 2011 at 03:41 PM in reply to anonymous
        That is not entirely correct. The State will not pay the employees more, so to the employee it is a tax increase (pay cut). If they increased my pay by 5%, but stopped paying 5% into retirement and required me to pay the 5%, it would be like what you are talking about. The employees paycheck (take home pay) would be the same. Right now it will be less.
        • reply
          by anonymous on Apr 8, 2011 at 09:08 PM in reply to
          Ahh! OK, so then the state agencies (who do not patronize local businesses to buy things and services) will have increased income, while state employees (who DO patronize local businesses to buy things and services) will have decreased income. And this encourages local business growth how?
    • reply
      by TJ on Apr 9, 2011 at 09:06 AM in reply to
      The fund is predicted to fail because they took into a account a not-yet-passed rule to make new employees enroll in a 401K instead of the FRS. As people retire, with no new money coming, any fund would fail. It's flawed thinking and the typical smoke-and-mirrors spin. The money from employee contributions is to replace State funds, so it will have no positive impact on the fund as you pointed out.
  • by steve Location: tall on Apr 8, 2011 at 07:19 AM
    Ritch Workman? what a name to have in this article... sort of an oxymoron considering the subject
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