Florida Retirement System
Law enforcement officers deserve their pensions
It is amazing that Gov. Rick Scott would even ponder attempting to rob the public safety officers who serve to protect Florida's communities and businesses of the hard-earned pensions they deserve to receive.
If Scott wishes to save taxpayers money, then keep the pension funds out of the hands of politicians and legislators. The uniformed warriors who respond to calls for service risk their lives on a daily basis. The pension system is an officer's reward for serving the citizens of Florida.
It is too bad if taxpayers in the private sector find it difficult to accept the fact that law enforcement officers have an excellent retirement and benefits. The officers have earned every penny of what they will eventually receive.
That may not be the case if Scott has his way. If pensions are altered by requiring officers to contribute a percentage of their salary to their retirement pensions, and the salary of officers remains frozen, or includes minimal raises, a new breed of officer will emerge. It will be more difficult to retain seasoned and experienced officers who know their jobs. Instead, it will become a game of high turnover, jumping from department to department, in order to find higher salaries to offset the rising inflation rates of a struggling economy.
If Scott wants to retain a force of officers willing to sacrifice their own lives for others, he should leave the Florida Retirement System alone. Officers who serve are special, and their retirement pensions should be considered as such.
Steve Roberts, Brooksville
Florida Retirement System
An unjustified cut
Our governor wants to cut property taxes to the tune of $1.4 billion. He wants this cut even though our state budget is facing at least a $3.6 billion deficit. Then, he wants state employees to pay for this property tax cut by requiring them to start making contributions to their pension funds.
He asks teachers, police officers, firefighters and corrections officers to begin contributing to their pensions. On the surface this seems fair, since private sector employees must do the same via their 401(k) accounts.
However, private sector workers, with the same education and experience, make more money than those in the public sector. The premise in public sector work has always been that the pay isn't as good but the benefits make up for it.
Now the government wants to take away the benefits. How many capable young people do you think are going to join the police force, or go into teaching if they know the pay is subpar and the benefits are the same as private sector jobs?
Joel Melvin, Clearwater
It may be time for changes in the Florida retirement system. The problem is how to do this fairly. The headline reads, "State workers would chip in." This sounds real chummy and innocuous. It should read: "Scott proposes 5 percent slash in state employees' already frozen pay."
Many state employees are close to subsistence wages now. This proposal is shameful and typical of the wealthy elite in control of our state. If money is a problem, they hit the poorest and weakest and don't even consider other ideas like eliminating sales tax exemptions.
Robert D. Collette, South Pasadena
Can blacks and police bridge gap? | Jan. 30, Maxwell column
Support for law and order
Bill Maxwell has distilled the essence of a problem. For too long we have put the blame of the black/police divide on the lack of black faces in the department. Affirmative action has negated this excuse, but the problem persists.
Although some in the black community have given law enforcement reason to view the entire community with suspicion, the majority have as much of a desire for law and order as in the white or Hispanic community, and in most cases more so.
Jay D. Jennings, Brooksville
No more alibis
Thank you Bill Maxwell. It is refreshing not to hear the same old alibis. Now that so many of the police officers are black, the prejudice excuse sounds a bit hollow.
Nanci Gaenslen, St. Pete Beach
Enough of us, already; let's think smaller | Jan. 30, Blumner column
Innovation is the answer
Robyn Blumner's column voices the concern that our efforts on improving the economy are too focused on growth, citing correctly that as population and GDP grow, so too does our consumption of resources and our impact on the environment. However, I think her pessimism is misguided. Growing the economy is not about getting more; it is about getting more with less.
Consider that as the world's population has increased, no new oil, coal, or water has been created. Yet, our usable supplies of these resources and living standards have increased. That is because our economies have grown, fostering new and efficient technologies, extraction methods and substitutes.
Unless human ingenuity magically disappears, there is no reason to expect we will be unable to cope with growing populations and economies, all while preserving our beautiful planet.
Matt Curran, Lutz
An invasive species
Thank you Robyn Blumner for daring to speak about what seems to be an "untouchable" topic — unbridled population growth. Humans are overrunning this planet like an invasive species. Overpopulation is the root cause of all of humankind's most serious challenges: pollution, food shortages, water shortages, natural resource depletion, civil unrest, climate change, rapid spread of diseases and more.
Don Macneale, St. Petersburg
The price to the poor
Robyn Blumner argues that the president must inform Americans about climate change because of a drastic increase in skepticism among the public. But more and more Americans understand the consequences of taxing energy companies and regulating carbon, resulting in higher energy costs and taxes, which hurt the poor and lower middle class the hardest.
Randy Goggin, New Port Richey