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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott wants bonuses for 'outstanding' state employees

9

December

Gov. Rick Scott wants to reward state employees with merit-based bonuses, he wrote in an e-mail to state employees today.

"In an effort to reward and retain outstanding employees, I am also proposing merit-based bonuses for employees," he wrote. "Based on 2012 performance evaluations, employees who receive the highest ratings would be eligible to receive a one-time lump sum of up to $5,000 in bonuses.  At the agency head’s discretion, up to 35 percent of each agency’s employees would be eligible to receive the merit bonuses."

The news is buried at the bottom of a long e-mail describing his budget recommendationsBuzz copied it below.

Since becoming Governor, I have had the privilege of meeting many of you as I have visited our state agencies. I have also had the honor of recognizing each month those long-time employees who have served the people of our state for at least 25 years. Thank you for your hard work and focus on making Florida the best place for businesses to grow, expand and create jobs.

As you know, this week I sent my proposed budget for 2012-2013 to the Legislature. After 11 months of listening to Floridians, my budget recommendations reflect the issues they have told me are most important to them. It also continues the progress we made last session in getting Florida back to work.

Education and job creation are the core of my budget because these are the two issues Floridians care about most. Despite a reported budget shortfall of $1.7 billion, I have assembled a responsible budget that funds the priorities Floridians want, without increasing cost for families or businesses.

We can achieve this goal by making state government more effective and efficient. My experience in business has taught me that customers expect more efficiencies each and every year.  Taxpayers should not have to expect anything different from government.

I have proposed efficiencies that will allow us to focus on education and jobs. Among them is changing the way Medicaid hospital providers are reimbursed for inpatient and outpatient services, along with other efficiencies in hospital stays and emergency room visits. I also recommend taking advantage of a smaller prison population resulting from our strong commitment to criminal justice reforms and 40-year low crime rate.

In addition, I proposed four percent in efficiencies in the state workforce. As we continue making Florida the No. 1 place for businesses to grow and expand, jobs will transition from government jobs to private-sector jobs.

We must be serious about fixing Florida’s pension fund in order to protect our ability to fund important priorities like education and jobs. The pension, as it is now, is a major concern for employees, retirees and the state’s taxpayers. It will continue to threaten other priorities if we do not talk honestly about its status.

To help reduce its liability, I propose injecting $300 million in the Florida Retirement System pension fund. These funds include $180 million of new state dollars to fully fund the normal cost, plus an additional $120 million toward the unfunded actuarial liability.

Without reform, Florida’s government pensions will overburden our state’s taxpayers. These steps will build on the reforms we began last session by modernizing our pension system so that Florida is no longer the only state where employees do not contribute to their own retirement, as is commonly done in the private sector.  These steps are necessary to ensure that retirees can continue to depend on the Florida Retirement System for decades to come.

To continue achieving efficiencies that will focus Florida’s budget on education and jobs, I am proposing changes to employees’ health care premiums. Employees classified as SES and SMS would contribute more for their health insurance coverage.  Additionally, state employees at agencies with their own pay plans, like those in the Executive Office of the Governor, the Lottery or the Legislature, will contribute as much as career service employees for health coverage. For those with single coverage, costs would go from around $8 a month, to about $50. For those with family coverage, costs would go from around $30 a month, to about $180. There would be no change in the amount career service employees pay for health insurance coverage.

In an effort to reward and retain outstanding employees, I am also proposing merit-based bonuses for employees. Based on 2012 performance evaluations, employees who receive the highest ratings would be eligible to receive a one-time lump sum of up to $5,000 in bonuses.  At the agency head’s discretion, up to 35 percent of each agency’s employees would be eligible to receive the merit bonuses.

Recent job numbers show Florida is headed in the right direction. October’s unemployment rate was the lowest we have seen in 28 months, and Florida has gained 106,900 jobs since January. Reaching the important milestone of 100,000 new jobs is certainly good news as we head into the holiday season.

As state employees, you are important to the future of our state.  Thank you for your hard work and service to our state.

[Last modified: Friday, December 9, 2011 5:37pm]

    

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