Alexander: Senate budget to include 3 percent salary and benefit cuts to yield $1 billion savings
Senate budget chairman J.D. Alexander today told reporters that he anticipates the Senate budget released on Monday will include a $1 billion cut in pay and benefits to teachers and all state workers, although the number could include administrative costs related to those benefits and some school districts could make other cuts to avoid hitting worker paychecks too deeply.
"I'm trying to bring our pension contribution down to about 3 percent and include some other acturarial costs to save us money now," said Alexander, R-Lake Wales, referring to the move to cut state worker salaries, shift it into the retirement fund and offset the need for general revenue money. "I'm trying to do things as efficient -- to try to get us through this period as I can." The state is facing a $3.8 billion budget hole and the Senate wants to set aside another $1 billion in reserves.
A Senate committee has passed a bill that would protect workers who make under $40,000 from the benefit cuts. State records show that includes about 53 percent of the state, county and city employees in the Florida Retirement System. Workers who make between $40,000 to $75,000 would get a 2 percent salary cut while those making over $75,000 would face a 4 percent cut. But Alexander said he is not sure that "tiered system" of pay cuts and benefits shifts will produce the savings he needs.
"We're trying to cost how that works,'' he said. If legislators don't save enough through salary and benefits cuts they will have to look at "a more broad-based cut to education and a more broad-based cut to HHS."