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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Fulford's ruling draws rebuke from governor and Senate president



Gov. Rick Scott and Senate President Mike Haridopolos both couldn't understand how Fulford had arrived at her decision with Haridopolos repeating his claim that Fulford, who ruled against the state in the prison privatization decision, was responsible for judicial activism.

"I think its unfortunate, clearly after vigorous debate in both the House and Senate, signed by the governor this was a law that we passed that showed respect to workers across the state,'' Haridopolos told reporters. "The fact that so many people pay into their own private retirement accounts, we're moving it to this new type of system. As I expressed yesterday, I think this is an example of judicial activism, and this is why we are immediately going to appeal this decision.

"I'm hopeful that Sen. Alexander's evaluation of the subject is the correct one. Again, it just causes concern when a judge, over a year later, makes this type of decision. To add insult to injury, we expected this to happen before we close out the budget. Now that we have closed out the budget, we need to re-address this situation.

"But I think the law is clearly on our side. I think most of us are not surprised by this particular judge's decision...but we expect to win on appeal."

He predicted the decision will put "people's retirement in jeopardy, but also basic programs that we rely on" but then predicted the state will prevail.

"We don't expect to lose this case so we're not going to hand over a billion dollars any where any time soon. Our best lawyers are working on it, our governor is working on it. We're going to quickly appeal. That's substantial to say the least. Remember, our goal is to add a billion for education. I do not expect to open up the budget, I expect to win the court case."

The governor was also not pleased.

"This is an example of a judge wanting to write the law," he told reporters. "We all know this is constitutional. There's no question about it. State workers paid in before, so it's actually constituitonal.
"I don't understand the ruling.It doesn't make any sense to me. We are appealing it and I'm sure it will be held constitutional, but think of the adverse impact it has on our state ...That plan is getting more unfunded every year."
Scott said the decision will have an "unbelievable impact" on state and county budgets. He added: "I cannot imagine a judge making this decision. Everybody has to remember our civics class in ninth grade. We said there were executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. I don't get to write the laws. The judiciary is not supposed to be writing the laws. This is writing the laws of the land. That is wrong."

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 7:27pm]


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