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Weatherford’s pension wish fails in Senate

by John Kennedy | April 30th, 2013

The Senate defeated one of House Speaker Will Weatherford’s top priorities of the session Tuesday, refusing to go along with a dramatic overhaul of the Florida Retirement System.

The 22-18 vote followed emotional speeches by several senators — including Sen. Jack Latvala, who fought back tears as he recalled a pair of state firefighters killed two years ago while battling a wildfire.

The Clearwater Republican said the men earned $26,000-a-year for the jobs that cost their lives.

Latvala said the House’s pension proposal not only diminished the service of state workers, it threatened the retirement plans of the teachers, police, firefighters and other government employees in the plan.

“We’re talking about 623,000 Florida lives,” Latvala said. “That’s who’s in this retirement system today.”

Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, had proposed a Senate plan that included incentives for employees who chose to join the FRS’s 401(k)-style investment plan instead of its traditional pension plan.

But on Tuesday, Simpson sought to replace his approach with one favored by the House, which closed the traditional pension plan to new employees. To soften the impact, Simpson’s proposal wouldn’t take effect until January 2015, giving the state time to consider steps the improve the investment plan.

Simpson said his revised proposal would be good for younger workers — many of whom don’t work for governments long enough to qualify for the conventional pension. Shifting more workers into an investment plan also would ease the state’s pension costs, freeing more dollars for lawmakers to pump into education, health care and other programs, Simpson said.

“The more we have to put into a defined benefit plan now, the less we can do…in what our priorities are,” Simpson said.

But a majority of the Senate was clearly wary.

“This is kind of unconscionable. It’s not the right thing to do,” said Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami Beach.

After the vote, Simpson said the House-Senate struggle over revamping the Florida Retirement System had ended. No changes will be made this spring.

“It’s dead. It’s over,” Simpson concluded.

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5 Responses to “Weatherford’s pension wish fails in Senate”

  1. Hey Geniuses Says:

    Here’s a brilliant idea, why don’t you use the 3% you’re currently taking and put it back into the system to shore things up. Make the plan more solvent then it already is. You idiot politicians can find your beloved tax incentive dollars somewhere else. How many different financial experts need to tell you that the plan is in pretty good shape? How many billions did you rake in the past couple years? I would think those additional dollars that went into the general budget and not back into the plan would help the tax payers, am I wrong? The politics of it all is so disgusting. Oh I forgot, next year is an election year, can’t piss off to many voters. Half the voters already hate you Republicans and the uninformed government workers who still voted for Scott and his merry men, even though they knew you were gunning for their pension, won’t make the same mistake twice. Pathetic!
    By the way, save the typical Republican talking point replies, anyone who understands pensions knows this is dirty politics and a outright cash grab.

  2. Evil Doers Says:

    The average gvt employee who is making 25K per year gave $800 to subsidize the state economy via the 3% mandatory FRS contribution. Let me make something very clear. That 3% did not go into their individual retirement or the general retirement fund. That 3% went into the general fund. Now these political idealogues want to kick state employees who are already realing from no raises in years. These people are struggling to FEED their families. They take poor paying jobs for insurance and the HOPE of a modest retirement. Get out and vote next year!

  3. registered independent Says:

    I applaud the republicans who voted to do the right thing and not what Jeb, their party or the Koch briothers dictated. I am not a republican (or a domocrat), but it is good to see free thinkers for a change.

  4. WannyOB Says:

    @Evil Doers, that is simply not true.

  5. Aunties Obi GGG BSPatrol Says:

    Weatherford? Isn’t he the same scumbag who today denies Medicaid to even working poor Floridians when HE and his family once got help from it?
    What utterly unconscionable ideologues most repubs have become, reelected via limitless funding for campaign marketing and helped by ignorant, medæval sexist, racist and theist passions

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