Teachers, Administrators React to FL Supreme Court Decision

By: Ashley Arnold Email
By: Ashley Arnold Email

Governor Rick Scott signed a law in 2011 to help strengthen Florida's retirement system. At that time, all state employees were told to contribute 3% of their paycheck to help pay for their pensions. State unions cried foul and sued, but Thursday the State Supreme Court upheld the decision to keep the plan in place.

In Bay County, the majority of those effected are teachers. Locally, some have questions about how the state will make up for this benefit being taken away.

"If they were doing this job in the regular business sector, they would be making a lot more money," said Bay District School Superintendent, Bill Husfelt. "There's a give an take on both sides, so since their benefits aren't what they used to be, we really should be paying them more."

Local teachers agree, however they also have other qualms with the law.

"It's a pay cut, so let's call it a pay cut," said Katie Clunan, a teacher at Arnold HIgh School. "Let's not call it contribution to my pension. When they advertise jobs in Bay District schools, it should be advertised at 3% less."

Teachers in the state have seen their salaries reduced for the contribution and while Clunan says she would like to have that money back, she understands why it's needed.

Stil, she has concerns about the long standing effects the decision could have in the future.

"Teacher salaries in Florida are very low and that pension was always a draw to bring new, young teachers into the field and I'm afraid that this will be a deterrent."

The fight may not be over just yet though, the state's teachers union can still appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court. If the decision is overturned, the state will need to find nearly $2 billion to replace contributed funds.


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