The winner of the Letter of the Month for March is Bill Mitchell of Tampa, who wrote on March 21 about the Florida House's plans to change the pension system for state and local government employees.
Pension changes would hurt Florida middle class
Though he claims it's an improvement, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford's proposal to make the Florida Retirement System into a 401(k) plan is a bad idea because it increases risk for government workers.
The existing retirement system guarantees fixed payments regardless of stock market performance. Under a 401(k) format, if the stock market collapses, retirement benefits collapse too. Think what would have happened if Social Security was tied to the stock market in 2008 when the Dow fell 50 percent. Both Social Security and the Florida Retirement System function as safety nets for Floridians. Weatherford wants to erode that safety net.
It is not just those who receive payments from the retirement system who would be adversely impacted if Weatherford's proposal goes through. Businesses that serve Florida retirees would also be impacted by the drop in retirement revenues. According to a 2012 report, about 800,000 Floridians benefit from the Florida Retirement System pension plan. Rational businessmen should be wary of a proposal that undercuts the spending power of 800,000 Floridians.
Weatherford's proposal isn't an improvement; it's a step backward and an attack on the middle-class lifestyle.
Bill Mitchell, Tampa