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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Scott signs pension bill opposed by police and fire unions

Gov. Rick Scott signed four more bills into law on Friday, dealing with health insurance plans, pharmacies, renewable energy and publicly-funded pension plans that cover public safety workers.

Scott approved Senate Bill 534 -- sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg -- over the vehement opposition of the Florida Professional Firefighters and the Fraternal Order of Police. Neither union backed Brandes in his Senate campaign in 2012.

James Preston, president of the state lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the bill "will only lead to pension confusion" by eliminating a provision in law enacted two years ago that required local pension plans to use the same actuarial assumptions as the state uses. The effect, Preston warns, will be to negatively impact city and county bond ratings and cause a spike in pension costs by imposing a mandatory discount of 200 basis points.

"If this legislation is allowed to become law," Preston wrote, "you will now have plans reporting intentionally deflated funding rates, with no set standard for comparison."

Gary Rainey of the firefighters union said the bill "cherry-picks accounting standards that are inconsistent per se, and then creates a new standard that is unrecognizable by any financial market or professional." 

The bill does not apply to the Florida Retirement System. It passed the Senate on a surprisingly close 22-18 vote as four Republicans (Charlie Dean, Nancy Detert, Greg Evers and Rene Garcia) sided with all 14 Democrats in voting no. Two Republicans in the House -- Mike Fasano and Ed Hooper -- also opposed the bill, which passed the House, 71-45.

[Last modified: Friday, May 31, 2013 6:25pm]

    

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