Senate breaks with House on pensionsby John Kennedy | April 6th, 2011
Dueling budget plans were poised for votes Thursday in the House and Senate – a milestone for lawmakers still far from consensus and struggling to close an almost $3.8 billion budget shortfall.
But during almost daylong debate Wednesday, the Senate made the most striking move – breaking with the House on making 655,000 teachers, police, firefighters and other government workers contribute 3 percent of their pay to the state’s retirement plan.
Instead, senators rolled out an alternate approach, requiring 2 percent to 6 percent contributions. Supporters said the plan would be easier on lower-income employees – the bulk of those enrolled in the Florida Retirement System.
“Our intention is not to run (costs) up higher than it has to be,” said Senate Budget Chief J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales.
Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, is expected Thursday to revive his call for making elected officials pay 7 percent into the retirement system.
The move drew lengthy debate Wednesday – but a vote was postponed, when Sens. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, and Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, argued against the higher rate.