And they’re off…
The Florida House of Representatives session does not begin until January, but already Representative Ritch Workman has introduced a bill that will cut benefits to Florida Retirement System members. While it is too early to give it much attention, it is obviously a harbinger of things to come. Workman, if you remember introduced a bill last year that was intended to radically cut benefits, has introduced HB 525 months before the session even begins.
Some of the changes include:
The proposal would change the default plan in the Florida Retirement System from the Pension Plan to the Investment Plan. Currently when a member enrolls in FRS they are automatically in the Pension Plan. Workman would like to change that to the Investment Plan. It appears that he would like to limit the ability to enroll in the Pension Plan to the first 12 months of service. If you don’t (or are unaware of your options) move to the Pension Plan in those first 12 months, you lose your right to ever go into the Pension, and are then limited to participation in the Investment Plan from then on. We would construe this as an introduction to the elimination of the Pension Plan for new employees in the near future. (Lines 220 to 243, and 426 to 429).
It would also increase the vesting age to 10 years. (Lines 85-87)
The minimal age for retirement for Special Risk members would be 25 years of service and age 48. Currently there is no minimum age if you attain 25 years of service. (Lines 62 – 64)
The other potential change, and we find the language to be confusing, is for those opting to take early retirement. The penalty appears to be the same (5/12 of a percent for each month, or 5% per year, prior to the normal retirement age, but seems to eliminate the 30 years of service option, and the language may also indicate the payment is the average of the monthly income, and not the typical Average Final Compensation which is the highest 5 year basis. (Lines 135 to 147)
We would reiterate it is too early to lose sleep over this proposal, but Representative Workman was a sponsor of major FRS reform (2011 HB 1405). It is not too early to call, write, and email him and your Representatives and Senators and let them know further cuts are unacceptable. 2012 is an election year – use it to your advantage. Get the word out and DO NOT RE-ELECT those that cut your benefits.