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!