Pension overhaul bill passes House, but path in Senate far from clear
TALLAHASSEE — House Republicans on Friday voted to close Florida's pension system to new state and local government workers, forcing them instead into 401(k)-style investment plans that would shift the financial risk away from taxpayers.
The proposal, a priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford, passed along party lines 73-43 after nearly four hours of debate Thursday and Friday. It now moves to Senate, where members have yet to fully embrace the dramatic change.
The legislation, HB 7011, would prohibit government employees, police and firefighters and teachers across the state hired after Jan. 1, 2014, from enrolling in the state's pension fund.
It does not affect the Florida Retirement System's current 1 million members.
Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said changes are necessary to prevent the $132 billion pension fund from going bankrupt.
"If we do nothing then the state of Florida will continue to spend money that should be going to education and health care, and it's got to be spent on things like a broken pension system," said Weatherford, who posted a message on his Twitter account saying that pensions have gone the way of Betamax, a defunct video cassette format.
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