Is Rick Scott Preparing to Screw Teacher and Police Pension Plans to Plug Budget?

Funny how though Tallahassee has been in the death grip of complete Republican control for more than a decade, the state still finds itself year after year with billion dollar budget holes to close. In order to shore up this year's $3.6 billion shortfall Gov. Rick Scott, several Republican politicians, and the perhaps too-influential Florida Tax Watch are taking aim at the benefits and retirement plans of public employees including teachers and police officers.  

The Heat Lightning has a round up of all the changes to the Florida Retirement System (FRS) that the private, non-private research institute Florida Tax Watch has suggested. Incidentally the organization boasts that a full three fourths of its suggestions have been adopted by the Florida Government in its more-than-thirty-year history. 

The Ft. Myers News-Press also has a story detailing many of the proposed changes currently being discussed by legislators, many of which resemble Florida Tax Watch's suggestions.  

Amongst the suggestions are eliminating subsidies for health insurance, increasing retirement age, and giving the pension program a major overhaul. 

Florida's public retirement system, which covers police officers, teachers, county and city employees and state workers, is unique amongst state plans in that the employees don't pay into their own plans. Several state legislators are apparently shocked. 

"They don't contribute and that's wrong," Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate has said.

"Government service comes at a price," says Senate President (and probably US Senate Candidate) Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island.

Words that should really inspire Florida's best and brightest to aspire to teach in public schools or patrol our streets.

While bringing Florida's retirement plan into alignment with that of other states' may not be in and of itself so controversial it's unlikely that the workers would receive a raise to offset the cost. In fact, The Heat Lightning reports that amongst Florida Tax Watch's suggestions is the idea of severely cutting or completely eliminating the amount the state pays into the retirement plans at all.

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Kyle Munzenrieder