THIS BILL WAS WITHDRAWN AT 4:28 THURSDAY, JANUARY 27, 2011. ONE WEEK AFTER IT WAS PROPOSED!!!!
House Bill 303 was introduced by Representative Fredrick Costello (click name for contact information)of Ormond Beach. It is a far reaching and devastating proposal for Florida Retirement System members, particularly FRS Special Risk members. The bill was filed just today, so we have had very limited time to study it. Please note also, that we are not lawyers, so some of the language is somewhat subject to interpretation, but as we read it, the bill includes the following changes:
Service credit would be reduced from 3% to a maximum of 1.6% for ALL employees for future service after June 30, 2011. Higher credits for previous years will be honored, but all future years for ALL employees will be reduced to 1.6% per year. (HB 303, lines 112-125)
Effective December 31, 2012 the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP program) is terminated for ALL members. Those already in the DROP will be paid out and terminated. (HB 303, lines 147-152)
Overtime, unused sick pay and vacation pay will not be used in the calculation of Average Final Compensation (HB 303, lines 161-165, and 207-211)
The minimum retirement age for eligible employees (special risk?) goes from 25 years of service or age 52, to a minimum retirement age of 55, regardless of years of service, and is vested after 10 years. (HB 303, lines 601-606 firefighters, and 1239-1241 police officers). For those in special risk that are approaching 25 years and under age 55, this could be a disaster.
There are two other changes of note. The statute language that doesn’t allow decreases in benefits is struck out and eliminated. Effectively, this would seem to potentially change the law, and preclude lawsuits about the changes that reduce benefits, which currently seems to be against the law.
Another change which is pertinent to the change in minimum retirement age is the penalty for early retirement goes from 3% per year to 5% per year. If you are 50 with 25 years in, and want to retire now, you would effectively be penalized 25% of your pension, as the new retirement age is 55, and not just 25 years.
I urge ALL members of the Florida Retirement System to promptly CALL Mr. Costello at the number above, write him, and email him, and then do it all over again. You need to become a royal pain to him. He, and all your representatives, needs to be overwhelmed with the outcry from YOU!