Are Florida school teachers' pensions on the chopping block?
Facing major budget shortfalls, Gov.-elect Rick Scott is taking a close look at slashing state contributions to public employee pensions, the Herald-Tribune reports. Lawmakers are looking supportive. As the H-T reports:
"Such a move would, for the first time since 1975, force teachers, firefighters, sheriff's deputies and other government employees to make significant contributions out of their own salaries. Florida is one of only a handful of states in the nation that don't require employees to pay for their pensions."
The Legislature considered several steps last spring to curtail the state's support of public employee benefits, including reductions to health insurance benefits, changes to the method of calculating pension income and more. With Gov. Charlie Crist threatening vetoes, all but one minor proposal failed to make it through both houses.
Many teachers and their unions already are on the defensive as they prepare to fight proposals to change the way they're evaluated, paid and contracted. Some have also begun passing unconfirmed rumors that the Scott administration intends to go after collective bargaining units in other ways, too.
The fear factor is high. We can't help but wonder what the result will be on Florida education — great improvement through improved accountability as suggested by some, or a rush for the borders by teachers who are suggesting they can't take it anymore.