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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

House says state workers should retire later, use salaries to pay into their retirement



The retirement age for all workers in Florida's Retirement System would rise and all public workers would take a 5 percent pay cut under the House's version of a pension rewrite approved Thursday by the House Governmental Operations Subcommittee.

The Republican-dominated committee approved the bill along a party-line vote, despite warnings from law enforcement and firefighters who said that requiring them to work longer in high risk jobs before they draw their retirement will endanger the public. The measure lengthens time police, firefighters, and other special risk employees work before they can retire from 25 to 30 years, or from age 55 to age 60, whichever comes sooner. For everyone else, the retirement age would rise from 60 to 62 years, or from 30 to 33 years.

The changes are designed to have the state's public pension fund more in line with private retirement plans, said Rep. Debbie Mayfield, one of the bill's sponsors. Opponents challenged that conclusion and suggested that the real motive for the proposed pension changes was to use public sector salaries to fill the state's $3.6 billion budget deficit rather than seeking money by closing tax loopholes.

The bill mirrors Gov. Rick Scott's plan to shift five percent of the annual salary from employees in the Florida Retirement System into their retirement account, thereby saving the state and local government money. But the House rejected several of the governor's ideas including his plan to end the defined benefit pension plan for new workers and eliminating cost of living adjustments for all retirees.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 17, 2011 6:58pm]


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