Senator calls House approach to pension “wrong,” “ill-conceived”by John Kennedy | March 20th, 2013
The legislative standoff over revamping the Florida Retirement System hardened Wednesday — with Sen. Jack Latvala deriding the House approach as “wrong” and “ill-conceived.”
The Senate Community Affairs Committee approved its more modest approach to the $136 billion fund on a 5-3 party-line vote, with Democrats opposed.
The Senate proposal (CS/SB 1392) by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, would give new public employees an incentive by cutting their payroll contributions to 2 percent if they join the state’s 401(k) styled investment plan.
If workers choose the traditional, defined benefit pension plan, they’d pay 3 percent. The only new workers required to join the investment plan would be senior managers, under Simpson’s bill.
The House, by contrast, is looking to close the Florida Retirement System’s defined benefit plan to new employees. The legislation (CS/HB 7011) is expected to clear the House on Friday — over opposition from outnumbered Democrats, who are siding with union allies who are fighting the changes.
The legislation is a top priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who maintains that the FRS is underfunded and will command increasing millions of dollars from Florida taxpayers to keep it afloat in future years, a stance disputed by many experts.
The Senate’s Simpson also downplays House warnings about the state of the pension plan. He also told fellow senators “it would be a cold day,” before he would fold and go along with the House approach.