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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