Pit bull-Chihuahua pension mix springs to life in Houseby John Kennedy | April 24th, 2014
The House tentatively approved a proposal one Democrat earlier condemned as “marrying a pit bull and a Chihuahua,” a combination that would rewrite the Florida Retirement System and local police and fire pensions.
Over fierce opposition from public employees’ unions, House Republicans have been intent on overhauling the $144 billion FRS, used by 622,000 government workers. But enough Senate Republicans have refused to go along with earlier pitches that House leaders are now turning to a new approach.
The House Thursday combined the FRS overhaul with another, more popular move that applies new standards to the local government plans. The city proposal has been hammered out after several years of off-and-on talks between police and fire unions and municipal officials.
Democrats see the approach as a desperate effort to force the Senate’s hand. Rep. Dwyane Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, last week likened it to unorthodox dog breeding.
Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, sponsor of the dual proposal (CS/HB 7181), defended it.
“The common thread is public pensions,” Boyd told House Democrats, who peppered him with questions Thursday. “We feel the best course of action is to combine two bills into one.”