TALLAHASSEE, Fla. For the second year in a row lawmakers are battling over whether or not the state’s pension system needs to be fixed. Many believe it’s one of the healthiest in the nation.
Giving newly hired state employees the option of a defined benefit plan or a 401 k style plan has been a tough sell. The Florida Retirement System at 86 percent funded is one of the nation’s strongest. It was more than 100 percent funded almost a decade ago. Then the legislature started dipping into it.
Rep. Mike Clelland of Lake Mary says “Despite our best efforts to weaken the system, it still remains one of the strongest in the nation. So when will enough be enough? I say right now.”
Democrats don’t want to fix what’s not broken. Republicans say it’s the right move. “Hearing the story that someone put in 7 years and is going to leave the state without a nickel is not smart. In the new plan they will walk away after a year being vested,” Says Rep Marlene O’Toole
Democrats booed. The bill passed the House without much worry. Even though the measure passed easily in the House, there are no guarantees when it gets to the Senate.
The House attached the bill to a local plan that would strengthen police and fire pensions. Combining the two could spell trouble in the other chamber. “The local bill, it’s going to pass 40 to 0. The cities and the unions have come to an agreement. If the FRS bill’s attached to it you go from 40 votes to trying to scramble 21.”
Both chambers have a week to figure out what’s best for Florida’s workforce
The state puts in just over six cents for every dollar an employee earns and the employee puts in three cents to the current retirement system.