Florida House Passes Pension Change Package

The Florida House voted along party lines today to make a major change in the state run pension plan. The measure would place all new hires after January in a 401(k) style plan but leave current employees with a set benefit.

But opponents worry the old plan will become a liability because no new people will be allowed to join.

The current pension plan is either a sinking ship or a savior of the middle class.

For two hours, the Florida House went back and forth. The Florida Retirement System is funded at 87 percent.

Rep. Joe Gibbons of Broward County says it’s well funded. "Which is one of the top five in the world as far as being actuarially sound."

But, Rep. Ben Albritton of Wauchula is one of those who want to change say it is a relic of days gone by. "We're being proactive, so that we don't have some huge crisis in the future."

Democrats, like Rep. Zimmerman of Palm Harbor, argued that without new employees in the plan, it will end up costing taxpayers more than if it's left alone. "The actuary confirms that if we make this radical change, we're going to have problems by year ten and we may have problems beginning in year five."

Amy Datz watched nervously in the gallery. After 31 years of working for the state, she is worried her pension won't be there in years ahead. "It doesn't make sense that if we don't have money going in that when I turn eighty, that the money will be there for me to have a pension."

Here on the other side of Capitol, state senators are going down a different path putting only senior managers in a 401(k).

"74 yays, 42 nays, Mr. Speaker" "So the bill passes."

The vote sets the stage for negotiations to begin.

Initial study ordered by the House Speaker found that the change would save the state no money, but after it was sent back to the consultant it said the savings could begin as early as 2016.

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