Florida Legislators Benefits

Florida state legislators are members of the Florida Retirement System, just like every other State, County, or FRS member.

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There have been a considerable number of posts and comments over the last several weeks about the benefits of our legislators, most of which are not true.  Florida Legislators DO NOT GET 100% of their pay for life after one year of service, or any number of years less than 33 1/3, for that matter.  Florida state legislators are members of the Florida Retirement System – just like every other State, County, or FRS member.  As such, they are members of the Elected Officers Class and entitled to the following benefits:

  • They have the same vesting schedule (6 years).
  • The same formula for determining their benefits.  To be eligible to get a benefit, a Senator or Representative must achieve age 62, or have 30 years of service.
  • Legislators get 3% service credit for each year of service.
  • They get the same health benefits as all other state employees.

You might be surprised to learn that both jobs, Senator and Representative, are considered part time jobs, and Legislator pay is in the area of $30,000 per year, plus $133 per day for expenses and travel to Tallahassee, for every day the session in is in session (up to 60 days = $7,980).

State Legislators are subject to term limits, with a maximum of 8 years of service, which means a 4 year term Senator must win at least one re-election to be vested.  A 2 year term Legislator (House of Representatives) must win an election AND two re-elections in order to be vested.

If we assume an 8 year run, at 3% per-year-credit for 8 years, the legislators would be eligible for only 24% of their $30,000 pay, or a mere $7,200 per year in retirement.  In addition, they would be eligible for the same 3% COLA as every other FRS member.

While we realize the level of anger and discontent FRS members have with the Legislature, wasting time fuming about legislator’s untouched benefits is a waste of energy, and accuracy.  As FRS participants, Legislators will be subject to any cuts in retirement benefits the same as all other members.   It is reasonable to expect that as Florida Retirement System members, Legislators receiving a benefit  should have a vested interest in the changes being fair.  Likewise it is understandable that a person who receives no retirement benefit could have little concern for changes.  The energy needed to ensure that law makers “do” the right thing should be focused on facts and figures and not fiction.

We are on your side, and believe that the more facts you have, the better you can make your case.  It has been demonstrated multiple times the power you have by contacting your Legislators and offering your well thought out opinions as to how they can best represent you.  Call them!

  • angry retiree

    Or it could be that they receive so little in retirement and they are pretty much already set up with good paying jobs and are well to do in the first place that they do not understand how their changes are going to destroy the retirements of the FRS members.

    Lets face it if you are well to do and in Florida politics for their pay of only up to 37,000 dollars a year the little bit of retirement they earn from the system means nothing to them any way.

    To the career FRS worker it means a lot however because those who like in my case worked for the state of Florida went without raises during the boom years while those same legislators said they just did not have the money for a pay raise for state employees. Now we have a down turn and they want to take away even more of our earn benefits.

    As it stands now why would anyone want to work for the state of Florida with the proposed retirement system and the Governors new proposal for state insurance where the state will only cover 5,000 dollars of the cost with the employee having to pick up the rest which for a family plan means over 9,000 dollars out of their pay check a year on top of having to contribute 5% of your income to the retirement system. I don’t know of any private sector jobs that make their employees pay over 9,000 dollars a year for their health insurance. My wife took over carrying our family coverage when I retired from the state of Florida and while it was more expensive then our old state plan it is only about 160 dollars a month more expensive.

    The facts are the Governor and the Legislature see over 100 Billion dollars sitting in an account and they want to get their hands on that money to spend it.

    Politicians seem to always have to spend every last dime they can get their hands on. The over 100 Billion is just to juicy of a pot of money for them to resist any longer. They claim the FRS is a failed system so that is why they want you to contribute yet the 5% you are going to contribute is is being reduced on the states side giving them the money to spend on other things instead of funding the retirement system. So no additional money is going into the FRS to shore it up instead it rolls on with the same funding amounts only they come from your own paycheck instead of the state which proves that the FRS is not in any danger.

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    For what it is worth, the legislators can not touch the money already in FRS.

  • Angry Retiree

    You are correct they cannot touch what is their today and I think that is why the big push is on to change the system so they can find a way to get to that money that is already their, but every dollar they make you pay into the system is a dollar they are not paying into the system they claim is broke.

    So what they are doing is taking those dollars that should have gone to the pension fund and spending on their other pet projects instead.

    Rick Scott and the Republicans are all wailing how the FRS pension fund is broken and failing, yet their solution is to make the employee pay into the system while they remove the same amount from the state contribution on their side. Does that sound like they are fixing a broken pension system? The FRS is still receiving the same amount of money it did before with the only difference being the state has freed up pension money to spend else where.

    The real facts are the Florida FRS pension fund is not broken.

  • First2c

    Since they are part-time positions, I would like to know why legislatures get a 3% retirement per year when I as a full-time state employer only get 1.5%. I would also like to see how these part-time employees income changes, once they are elected. Upon the end of their terms, I’m sure they incomes revert back to their pre-election levels. Wouldn’t expect to see representatives profiting from their experience by becoming consultants or working for think tanks are highly inflated salaries and not the Photoshopped snapshot they wish to present.

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    Agreed. It will be interesting to see if Scott is successful re-routing dollars earmarked for retirement to the general fund, that seems it might have some constitutional issues.

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    Realistically, they have to give them something to entice them to take the job. Undoubtedly most are financially secure without it, but still, nobody worthy will do it for free. Maybe the solution is to pay them enough to really care.

  • Pete

    Thank you for the dispassionate statement of fact. We are much to quick to villify those folks who are acting in public service for far less remuneration and far more hassle than those of us in professional civil service.

  • spope

    I was under the assumption elected officials could recieve pension benefits after 12 years in office. I thought some County Commisioners in the FRS were able to collect pension payments upon completing (3) 4 years terms. Is that incorrect?

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    If they are members of FRS, they would be eligible for vesting after 6 years, and then would have to meet the normal age of 62 or 30 years to collect. It is possible for them to receive benefits after 12 years, as they would be vested, as long as they meet the age requirements.

  • Anonymous

    They can’t touch it under the current state statues. Guess who makes and can change the statues, legislators!

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    They can change the statutes, but not so easy on issues that are unconstitutional, and changing the constitution is a whole different ball game.

  • Mbaxter

    All I have to say is that the state average pay for teachers in Florida for a FULL TIME job is less than what you’ve just said is the PART TIME pay given to our representatives and senators. How nice it must be to get paid more for a part time job than teachers do for a full time job, and to receive retirement and health benefits for said part time job when most people do not receive such benefits unless they are full time employees…

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    Legislators pay into FRS. As a matter of fact, their contributions will be higher, and there benefits will be reduced by this legislation.

  • LittleSebago

    Why do they get special risk rate?

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    Elected officers include not only Representatives and Senators, but also such jobs as Sheriff, Clerks of Court, Public Defenders, and a slough of other positions within our state government that are worthy of top notch people, and a nice pension to attract good candidates. Technically, they don’t get “special risk”, the get the Elected officers rate, which happens to be the same amount.

  • Deb

    Realistically, the majority of them go into the job caring and then about half-way through it becomes a power game – who can beat the other side – and the caring about the citizen is out the window. I do have a question regarding their part-time job of approximately $38,000/yearly. Just how many days are they actually working? Part-time meaning the 60 or 90 days they’re in session? If so, then we’re really looking at a comparable salary of about $100,000/yearly. Pretty hefty salary, I’d say…

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    I suspect you will find being a Senator or Representative is pretty close to being a full time job. While they are only in session for 60 days, most are in Tallahassee by November or so, plus the work in their home districts. I feel pretty confident in stating they are not in it for the pay or the retirement benefit.

  • Jipp

    These are part-time employees and a drain on FRS. They should reap no benefits for fulfilling their chosen voluntary jobs. In the mean time, as a 30 year, I am painted as a criminal because I want to be able to live off my retirtrement benefits after years of sub-par pay. Something is wrong.

  • Michaeljlynch58

    So, Florida legislators get health and retirement benefits even though they are part time workers. What other part time workers get those kinds of benefits? What? No one? You mean our law makers don’t protect part time workers other than themselves?

    Also, let’s not overlook the fact that $30,000 is good pay for part time work. A person working 40 hours per week for 52 weejs at minimum wage ($7.25) earns only $ 15,080, or half what a part time legilator earns, not including the additional benefits legilators earn.

  • Nancy

    Florida legislators get 3% for retirement. In your article you state just like all state workers. Well you better do more research teacer only receive 1.? NOT 3%. Now tell me who works harder teachers or legislators. Also, legislators get paid when you can’t do their job during regular sessions, called special sessions. While teachers must take their work home or stay at work with NO pay and complete their work.

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    I’m sorry Nancy, I didn’t mean to offend. What we were stating was the Elected Officers Class has all the same criteria as all other FRS members, such as vesting, retirement age, etc. There are multiple credit categories, from Special Risk, Sr. Management, Regular etc. that all have different levels. It was not and is not a reflection of your import, and we weren’t responsible for the credit levels. By the way, don’t teachers get 1.6%

  • Mike

    I paid the state $7000 to purchase military time with FRS and begin the DROP program in two years. The introduction of HB1405 isn’t sensitive to those Teachers,Firefighters and Police officers that purchased prior service time enabling them to start the DROP. I voice the teachers disdain for this recent proposal. Regards… Mike Harrell Broward Co.Fl.

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    Mike, that is a really good point to make to the legislators! You were encouraged to pay up for those credits, and after-the-fact may lose what you paid for. That has to rate up there with the most unfair aspects of these proposed changes.

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    I would guess in order to attract reasonable candidates to take the job, they have to give then some benefits. I would not defend a politician, but there is nothing part-time about it. As to your question about insurance costs and COLA, that is why they give you COLA. Health care costs across the nation, public sector and private are skyrocketing. Mine (private sector) have doubled in the last 4 years!

  • Asaenz

    May 21, 2011

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I have served as a School Social Worker by the end of this school year for almost 27 years. I worked 8 years in Puerto Rico. So, I have been working for 35 years. I have planned to retire and spend some time helping parents of children with disabilities and with my family. After all these changes which in reality do not benefit me at all, do you think I would have the energy and motivation at 70 years.

    Was the purpose is for some of us to die in the job and do not get any benefits after being working so hard for so long? I really do not understand. Is there somebody who can explain this to me in simple terms. Of course is not about me, it is about the cuts. Well, you already have cut the motivation of many excellent teachers, psychologists, social workers and office staff who currently are looking to leave the school system.

    This is a shame. My three children studied in public schools and I can assure you the education was excellent. They are hard working professionals. Is this what you want for the children that are in school now, when the best teachers might be leaving the system?

    Again I know is not about that. It is about the budget.

    Sincerely,
     Ana C. Saenz
    MDCPS
    School Social Worker

  • Manda

    I am hoping that was full of sarcasm and not truth.

  • Spikeybabs

    I’d like to know where else you can work part time for only 8 years and still receive “a mere” $7,200 in retirement for life.

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    We here you, but what would you offer to entice good qualified people to take the job?

  • Bc98mgt

    Yeah, paltry life for legislators. The legislators and their constituents need to realize that we public servants I.E.. teachers, public utilities workers, fire-police-dispatcers, road workers and inspectors, are working hard every day to make sure the toilets flush and that Grandma gets helped up off of the bathroom floor. This proud and abiding group of Americans who pay their taxes, sweat their bills and are experiencing the same economic conditions that everybody else is. There was “knee jerk”ideology directed pension reform that added a 3% tax levy onto middle/lower middle tax payers who are contributing tax paying middle class Americans. “If a society does not have a middle class, it will soon have no class”. In the city that I work, our Manager took advantage of stimulis programs and improved infrastructure. New roads/sidewalks, bridges, water plant upgrades and utilities upgrades that will take us long into the future, actually kept good tax paying citizens working and kept them off of unemployment assistance rolls. Legislators who refused the stimulis initiatives that were meant “to get shovels in the ground”, did their contituents no favors in the area of infrastructure and work programs, in fact they left people in unemployment lines and on assistance. We better can the “eat your own” synicism and start looking past sloganed ideology, to get America back to work. 2012 “get ridiots”!!!

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    Well said, and good points. Unfortunately, at the national level we have leadership that believes extending unemployment instead of creating jobs, is what will stimulate the economy.

  • spacehound

    Obviously. But teachers are under a pay freeze. So apparently we have to pay more to get qualified people to want to become state legislators? Don’t make me laugh! The only reason the job is ull time is that they spend the rest of the year raising campaign contributions many times their slaaries. 

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    In trying to maintain a somewhat objective view of our legislatures, we often say things that our readers can’t agree with. We can say with a high level of confidence, that we don’t believe less pay and benefits would attract better candidates for the legislature – any more than it is going to attract better candidates for FRS member positions.

  • Steve Kufrovich

    A teacher with 8 years of service would less than 13% or a mere $4800 in benefits for working at a full time job.  Also, the legislature has further reduced my compensation (without collective bargaining, which is unconstitutional) by further reducing the amount that the school district pays into the FRS (from 6% to 3,3%).  That payment to the FRS is a part of my compensation and it is now about half what was agrees to in collective bargaining and done unilaterally by the legislature.

  • Bachamiaolson

    Well there are part time people that I know that work for the state that are having 3% taken out of their pay????????????????????????????????????

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FJUR6BHFQU3PFJ52D2V6QQTUZM Jeff

    The new hires keep the money flowing for the old retirees. They can make 30000 plus 133 a day for their 60 days of service to the State. Theyto are State employees. CUT THEIR PAY. Put them on a performance base pay plan. How well Florida does thats how well they will get paid.. 

  • Ostomate

    So will new legislators be forced to join a 401K, like new state workers? Or will they continue to be allowed to participate in the defined benefit plan?

  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    There is nothing in the proposed legislation that we see than would provide for the legislators to have a different set of rules. They may, however, opt out of the system altogether. Since Florida has term limits, it is probably a better alternative for them to go into a 401(k) style plan anyway. That way they have a benefit even if they are not re-elected, or term out after 8 years.