FRS Members Lose ! Florida Supreme Court rules in favor of Gov. Scott

the Florida Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Governor Rick Scott in the “Scott vs. Williams” lawsuit filed on behalf of Florida Retirement System members

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As we have feared from the outset, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Governor Rick Scott in the “Scott vs. Williams” lawsuit filed on behalf of Florida Retirement System members and the three percent contributions taken out of employee paychecks since July 1 of 2010.  The FSC ruling reverses the lower court ruling made by Judge Jackie Fulford in early 2012 indicating the employee contributions and changes were unconstitutional.  As details are more clear, we will continue to provide information for members.  It would appear there will be no repayment of contributions, and the elimination future COLA benefits will remain in effect.

The court ruling can be obtained by clicking on this link:    Supreme Court Decision

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VSDWGQT6AHL3PT3ECQNHSBTT3A Randal

    So does this ruling mean that thoses that retired before 7/2011 do NOT receive a 3% cola each year?

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

    No, benefits for those retired will NOT CHANGE!

  • Chris Mills

    Should have applied to the city:(
     

  • Klonipan

    Can this be appealed to the USSC?

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

    We don’t think so. While the case might have been a potential violation of the Florida Constitution, we don’t believe it is any violations of the Federal Constitutional. We don’t think the Federal Supreme Court has any standing in this ruling. That said, we are not attorney’s, that is our understanding.

  • Jeffery Roberts

    Thank you Tricky Ricky. Lets see how much more you can steal from those who put their lives on the line to keep you safe so you can sleep at night. 

  • dolfan1

     When Scott is kicked out of office at the end of his first term, can the new gov. undo any of the damage?

  • Quevolaaa

    Is the elimination of the 3% cola permanent for those that went in the DROP after July 1, 2011?

  • Klonipan

    The rest of us still working are SOL. The reduction in COLA is a disincentive to continue to work. The longer you work, the smaller your annual COLA.

  • amyandy

    For those retiring after 2011 but before 2016, does the COLA still “prorate” guarantee still apply?

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

    No. If you went into DROP after July 1, your COLA was established when you entered DROP, and will not change through your retirement.

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

    Possibly. We would guess the state of the economy, and the economy of the state will have a strong influence on future changes, either for or against. In the past FRS benefits have been increased and improved on numerous occasions, and there is no reason to think that could not happen again.

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

    The formula for DROP is as it has been since the changes went into effect July 1 of 2010. It is the ration of years of service prior to 7/1/2010 to total years of service, multiplied by 3%.

  • amyandy

    What will be my COLA percentage when I retire 6/30/13?

  • myfairsharepaid

    Across the board cuts to all groups could balance the budget. When you exclude certain groups the rest have to pay more. Yes this means you senior citizens on “fixed incomes” with your cost of living increases every year. That’s not a fixed income.  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/E47ODXQX4WRAMXHSOBUQV4QRPQ James

    After teaching for 18 years in Florida and my wife with 23 years all under the FRS umbrella we decided we were done teaching in Florida.   So we moved to South Korea.  Got jobs teaching there and they not only beat our salaries but we get room and board for our two children too.  No bills because we are living in the dorm facility and no car to worry with.  So no gas to buy and no commute time.  My classroom is 134 steps from my bed.  

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

    It depends on how many years of service you have in, and how many years of service were prior to July 1, 2010. Divide the pre 2010 years by the total years and that ration times the 3% maximum COLA number. Example, if you had 27 years in before July 2010, and a total of 30, you will get 27/30 = .9, then multiply that by .03 = 2.7%.

  • KO4RN

    First, any new Florida teacher hired after July 1, 2011 will have to teach 33 years not 30 on an annual contract in order to earn a full state retiremnt. Not many will accomplish that. Therefore, these teachers where possible should move to a state like Georgia. Yes, their teachers have to contribute 5 percent of their salaries to their pensions, but at retirement they will receiver 60 percent of their salary. Florida teachers receive only 48 percent of their highest five-year average. In additon , Georgia teacher salaries are higher from start to finish. They do have a state income tax but the higher salaries and kick butt pension make up for it. Florida teachers, what possible incentive is their for you to stay here? Time to move to peach land. You’ll get the respect and salary you deserve. Thank you.

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

    A few comments. At 33 years of service, a Florida teacher will get 55.4% of the average of their highest five years of salary. The will only have paid 3% since 2012, and not anything for years of service prior, and Florida teachers will not have to pay a 6% state income tax. It would seem the 6% state income tax in itself is worse than the 4.6% less pension percentage. Not to mention that they get to live in Florida. All-in-all, we’re thinking Florida is still a better place to be.

  • Klonipan

    Doesn’t 33 x 1.6  = 52.8% of the average of the highest five years of salary? 

    BTW, Alabama’s multiplier is 2.0125 percent which is multiplied by the person’s average earnings over the last three years of employment. They also can retire at 25 years of service no matter what age you are. 

    For Florida veteran teachers, the state cuts 5% of your pension for every year you are below 62 albeit you may have already worked 25 years. Thus, Florida now squeezes you on both ends – you get less if you retire early via the 5% per year penalty and you also get less in retirement via the COLA reduction if you work longer. That doesn’t seem fair.

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

    At 33 years the multiplier is 1.68%. Sounds like you like Georgia better, so we are happy that you are happy there. This site is for information about the Florida Retirement System, so we are not well versed in what Georgia offers.

  • Klonipan

    I’m a Florida teacher, not a Georgia or Alabama teacher. Google is my friend, though. It says in Georgia that “Retirees between the ages of 62 and 65 can exclude $35,000 from state taxes. Those 65 or older can exclude $65,000.” So, they are likely NOT hit with the 6% state income tax on their pension. 

    Would you agree that the new Florida squeeze put on vested workers with 25 years of experience and under age 62 is not fair? We lose whether we retire early or stick it out to 62. The system penalizes us with either decision.

    Thanks for clarifying that the multiplier increases for 33 years of service. If Scott has his way, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to raise it to 50 years or more of service for newbies.

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

    I am hesitant to comment in regard to being able to retire at 25 years as opposed to age 62. Retiring young on a pension that is a fraction of pre-retirement income is a risky choice.. On the other hand, I believe what the legislature is doing to long term employees is disgusting, and was the grass roots for the creation of this site. We fear that the current actions by the legislature will have a lasting impact on the quality of employees in Government, and like the debt issues, will create significant problems for our children and grandchildren. If Scott has his way, there will be no pension, just a 401k type plan, which removes risk for the state, but also eliminates a major attraction for government employees. I personally feel Teachers, Firefighters, and Law Enforcement personel deserve a generous pension, as most government concerns simply can’t afford to pay them what they are worth.

  • jumper10

    Alot of people beleive that a firefighters salary of 36K is alot, after all they just sit around the station, play checkers , and eat dinners that the taxpayer pays for. This could not be any further from the truth. When some firfighters start their careers they only make 24K a year, this works out to under $9.00 an hour, because the average work week for a firfighters is 56 hours. This hourly wage is explained to be so low due to the cost of retirement that is provided by the city/county/and airport departments. Now many of these departments that have taken advantage of low cost labor want to stop paying for what they have been able to benefit from. It is hard to believe that one could raise a family on this income, let alone run into a burning buildiing for so little. As far as dinners firfighters pay for their own food, coffee, drinks with no reimbursement ( not that any firfighter has ever expected or asked for reimbursement) And for the sitting around part, there is alot of schooling, and training required to be able to react to ANYTHING that could happen. Sitting around is not an option.

  • Norm Knapp

    This is a letter I sent our ‘wonderful’ representatives last year, just wanted to post it and get others take on it. Thank you in advance, please I really don’t need a bunch of idiotic responses and threats made about physical violence. If you have not yet grasped that things are changing you should probably get ready. Now that he has gotten away with a little bite, start watching closely for the big bites. Please all of you both those affected and those sitting on the sidelines please start, or continue, to write your representatives concerning this issue……
     
    The following letter was sent last year during the vote for the change……
     
     
     
    Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen Representatives’ of the State of Florida;
     
     
    I would like to take a moment of your time to express my hopes at your ability to make a sound well thought out decision concerning FRS. I am positive that you have received a plethora of letters, e-mails, and phone calls from concerned members of FRS about this.  Please forgive me if some of my words or statements repeat what other of my brother and sister members of FRS have already spoken. What I will not be doing is ranting, raving, or making blanket threats about future elections!
    I am a twenty year veteran of the Seminole County Sheriff’s and until recently truly enjoyed my career choice. I worked the midnight shift for six years with no shift differential (unlike private sector employment). Due to the way our shift rotations worked I spent every other weekend away from my family keeping the fine citizens of Seminole County safe and secure. As a Law Enforcement Officer I understood that I would need to be available to work at anytime (again without the on call pay of the private sector), and many times without much notice (I once got called into work while I was with family at Disney). The greatest responsibility, and probably the greatest detractor, to working High Risk is the need to be away from ones family during natural disasters. Many private sector jobs are not required to work during hurricanes, not only work but work outside trying to assist stranded citizens that did not heed the warnings of Emergency services.
    As to the definition of HIGH RISK, the high risk category of the FRS was created to offset the different levels of stress and the nature of the work that those that fall under the high risk were being exposed to. No one is taking away the fact that many people within FRS are not hard working staff members, but only the special risk class of high risk takes their lives into their own hands each and EVERY time they don their uniforms. Be it the Police, Sheriff, or Trooper arresting a violent offender a fire fighter entering a burning building to save a life or the correctional officer trying to control 900 inmates on a recreation yard during a major fight by himself. If the three examples above are not enough to stress the level of dedication we in the high risk category have then allow me to remind you of September 11th, 2001. Think back to the scenes of all the people running away from the burning buildings, and remember also the police, firefighters, and EMS staff running TOWARDS the danger.
     
     
    Governor Scott continues to attempt to convince the people of Florida that a complete overhaul of the FRS is the ONLY way to bring the budget back into line with what is needed. One can only hope that the convoluted math that Governor Scott is adding comes back to bite him in the near future. One cannot expect to make such drastic changes to a system that is only broken for the top 5% of highest earning members of the FRS program. While I agree that some changes are needed, having us pay into the system is a given. Requiring the average staff member to pay 3% of their salary into FRS is not so bad, until you realize that average state employee has not had a pay raise in five years, the average county employee three years and city agencies in the last year or so.    
    Knowing that changes are inevitable I would like to put forth the following three changes as my input to the FRS program. While I know that they have been addressed before I would whole heartily agree that these would allow us to contribute to fixing the shortfall of the budget without forcing us to take on the lion’s share of it. I would plead to you not to change the 25 years and out clause in the FRS, studies have found that many officers do not survive long after retirement due to the stresses caused while working.
    ·         Return the vestment period to 10 years of unbroken service.
    ·         Force employee’s to contribute 3% of their salary towards FRS.
    ·         NEW IDEA… Tier the retirement for high risk, 10-18 years 2%, 19-24 2.5% and only those that put in a full 25 years or more would get credit for the full 3% per year of creditable service (i.e. an employee with 12 years would earn 24%, while an employee with 20 years would earn 50%, while someone with 25 years would earn the entire 75%)
     
    Basically I am trying to paint a picture, that our Governor is not quit understanding, you cannot treat public sector employees like the private sector employees due to the increase in liability, responsibility, and emergency necessity that is required by the public sector especially those of us in high risk fields.  The men and women in Florida that work as Law Enforcement Officers, Fire Fighters, and Correctional Officers choose to place themselves in harm’s way so that you and your constituents may enjoy a secure quality of life unequaled in the modern world. I truly believe that any extreme change to the FRS would greatly affect the level of standards of which many agencies are able to hire/ keep qualified staff. 

  • amyandy

    Once finished with DROP at 58 years old and being an educator, is there a place to put DROP/Bencop lump sum monies until 59 1/2 to avoid early financial penalties?

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

    Yes, you can roll the money to an IRA and avoid taxes and penalties until you withdraw the money from the plan.

  • Curchyc

    I retired 2 years ago after teaching in florida for 34 years. I don’t see how school districts are able to attract talented young teachers with these changes in the frs system. i am pleased to see these changes will not affect my COLA, as my school district now “passes on to employees and retired personnel” all increases in insurance costs each year. Last year the 3% increase still left me $20 shorter every month from the previous year, but it would have been almost $90 without the COLA.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CHYV5AR64HH7L4XSMGGHXHECN4 Nimdo

    I feel like I have been punched in the gut.  Effectively, our salaries have been cut by 3% and no COLA is just adding salt to the wound. I think the supreme court was very concerned what would happen if Scott and the legislature had to return the funds. Its as  if they were sayin, “well, its too late to go give it back since Scott placed all his eggs in the FRS basket in order to balance the budget” whereas the lower court was more  sympathtic and would not let Scott get away with it. 

     Scott’s approval rating is 32% last time I checked. So I doubt  he will be re-elected. I am certain many others will never forget what Scott has done. He can do cartwheels and I will never vote this guy.  We can only hope that Charlie Crist  runs again and perhaps he will put the brakes on the 3%, providing this legislature will play ball.  In 2014 I will not be voting for scott and I will not be voting  for any legistlative member who decided to effectively cut our salaries by 3%. The real concern is how much more damage will scott and his Goon  legislature do the state?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CHYV5AR64HH7L4XSMGGHXHECN4 Nimdo

    I feel like I have been punched in the gut.  Effectively, our salaries have been cut by 3% and no COLA is just adding salt to the wound. I think the supreme court was very concerned what would happen if Scott and the legislature had to return the funds. Its as  if they were sayin, “well, its too late to go give it back since Scott placed all his eggs in the FRS basket in order to balance the budget” whereas the lower court was more  sympathtic and would not let Scott get away with it. 
     
     Scott’s approval rating is 32% last time I checked. So I doubt  he will be re-elected. I am certain many others will never forget what Scott has done. He can do cartwheels and I will never vote this guy.  We can only hope that Charlie Crist  runs again and perhaps he will put the brakes on the 3%, providing this legislature will play ball.  In 2014 I will not be voting for scott and I will not be voting  for any legistlative member who decided to effectively cut our salaries by 3%. The real concern is how much more damage will scott and his Goon  legislature do the state?

  • myfairsharepaid

    Now Mr Scott wants to give teachers a raise. What about the rest of us? Are we just not as important? Fireman, police etc….

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

    We have a problem believing the Court would make a decision because of the costs it might incur for the state. It would be without much precedence. The case law presented seems fairly rational.

  • teamsterslocal2011

     I am proud to be a State Employee, and feel that the Ledger should print all the facts on the Retirement Pension Issue at hand. The Truth is that all the changes to the F.R.S. Reform Bill in 2011 were never published. Please read attached list of all the 2011 changes that were made to the F.R.S., as we all were promised in a contract form when we decided to enter Public Service, for the jobs we took with lower pay because the benefits were decent. See the attachment in its entirety;

     http://www.myfrs.com/imageserver/pdf/2011_Legislation_FAQs.pdf
    or the summary;
     http://www.myfrs.com/imageserver/plumtree/remote/custom/2011_Legislation_Summary.pdf

    When I accepted my position with the Florida Department of Corrections in 1999 in new the pay was considerably lower than the local and neighboring Sheriffs were paying for the same type positions; however I decided on the State Position because the Benefits were better in 1999. Now with the recent Supreme Court Decision against changing the F.R.S. back to pre-2011 standards as presented by the State when we accepted to take the Jobs that not many are willing to do daily for twenty five years. We work daily, Face to Face with prisoners, that if they were walking down a city street, you would cross the street to avoid.  We just want all the facts published so that are fellow Florida Tax Payers know we are not complaining about contributing towards are retirement, we are wondering why the State chose to not make changes to only the New State Employees and leave the system the way it was promised when we accepted the unwanted position no one wanted when we were first employed by the State.
    The way I see the changes are actual a personal state tax just for being a State Employee.  I just want all the facts to be available and transparent for all to see.

  • nana3956

    I agree; take vested years back to 10 years from 6 years.   My husband & I retired with 30 years of 2 different county government services.  We’re in the 48% retirement pension – and that’s what they call “full retirement”.  I’m not complaining but 48% / full retirement = a retirement pension check.  Almost 1/2 of mine goes to health insurance for myself and my husband.  Again, not complaining because we have to have health insurance.  My husband was in environmental/solid waste/supervision level; I was in Library Services/customer service/supervision.  Trust me; I commend anyone in high risk as I have a niece that works for Seminole County Sheriff’s Department and a nephew for City of Sanford Police Department; and we have had some nasty threatening patrons that we dealt with accordingly; but Big Bro Gov Scott only cares about himself!  Otherwise, he and others would appreciate us “Public Servant Employees” that put up with crap that Private Sector employees don’t – I’m sure.  And yes, they need to be reminded we are also ‘TaxPayers”……..We, just like them, chose our job/career but we didn’t ask and don’t deserve what Scott has and is still trying to do to us………………..

  • nana3956

    remember his 1st year, he cut schools budget, 2nd year he put $$ in schools budget, 3rd year he’s requesting a raise for teachers.  They deserve a raise just like any other State, County or city employee.  He’s wishey washey = don’t care person!!

  • Mick Harris

    I read on another website yesterday that Scott has a line in his proposed budget plans to end DROP again.  Is this correct or is someone just “stirring the pot?”

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

    We are not familiar with any proposals in regard to DROP at this point. The “Florida Tax Watch” people are recommending it be eliminated to save money, but as of yet, we have seen no legislature mention. Scott seems to align himself with the FTW, so it may well be a possibility.

  • amyandy

    In the event that DROP were to be eliminated at “this” stage of the game, based on legislative history/practice, when would you foresee this taking effect?

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

    Most changes made in the legislative session seem to go into effect July 1. The past several years all the proposed changes, both those approved and those not, were kicking in July 1.

  • amyandy

    Not to beat a drum over and over, but do you really feel that this year DROP would be eliminated?  I am one of the ones who has planned for this moment financially (6/30/13) as the end of my 30 year mandatory time (with DROP funds and so forth) to come.  My retirement /DROP paperwork has already been sent in.  Please offer something to be optimistic about…

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

    If your paperwork is in, and your DROP date is prior to July 1 of this year, we would guess you will be fine. Trying to speculate as to what changes the legislature will make this spring is just that – speculation. I suspect, with the elimination of the Pension on the table, that would be enough for one session, so if the legislature pursues that, we think DROP may be safe at least for another year – but that is just a guess.

  • Norm Knapp

    [Be advised incoming sarcasm]
     
    It truly is a sad state of affairs in the state of Florida when all of our “elected” officials cry foul at the FRS employees; maybe we need Nancy on OUR SIDE!!!! You will notice that “many federal government employees have not had a cost of living raise in two years……. Just want to say that’s nice, MOST of the member of FRS have not had a cost of living raise or any other type raise in five to seven years. I guess both parties are out of touch with the rest of us!!!!!!  Let us also remember that not only have we had no pay raises but most of us are now paying two or three times the amount for health insurance, and on top of that we are now paying 3% into our retirements. To hear Gov. Tricky Ricky spin it soon we will not even be able to hire decent employees due to his new retirement guidelines. Wake up people Tricky Ricky’s only purpose is to gut the current system, thereby justifying his lies over the last few years. The only public office he should hold after this next election is inmate legal library clerk in a federal prison….
    “WASHINGTON — Speaking out against the sequester, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she does not support pay cuts for congressional offices.
    Pelosi was asked if she would take a pay cut if the budgets for her congressional offices are reduced as a result of the sequester.
    “Why should people who work on Capitol Hill pay that price and be treated as members of Congress are? It’s a hard question to ask me because — most of my colleagues are the breadwinners in their families; a pay cut to me doesn’t mean as much,” said Pelosi on Thursday at the Capitol.
    “I mean, I don’t think we should do it. I think we should respect the work we do. I think it’s necessary for us to have the dignity of the jobs that we have rewarded. But, you know, this across-the-board cut, there’s an across-the-board cut. That’s just the way it is.”
    Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen said federal employees should not “bear the burden” of reducing the nation’s $1 trillion deficit.
    “Federal employees have seen no cost-of-living increases — these aren’t regular raises; these are to keep pace with the cost of living — for two years, and that was appropriate in these sense that they’re willing to do their share,” he said.
    “What federal employees are not willing to do is to bear the entire burden of deficit reduction, to be scapegoated and have everybody point fingers at them. And that has been the Republican strategy.”
    Congress approved pay freezes for federal employees in 2010, which is scheduled to expire March 27.
    President Barack Obama has proposed raising federal civilian workers’ pay by 1 percent in FY2014.
    Union members protested the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester Wednesday across from the Capitol. “

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

    While we are in agreement that spending needs to be cut, payroll and benefits are the last place to do it.

  • Norm Knapp

    I believe my sarcasm was lost……
     
    I was using Nancy “OMG if I take a pay cut I lose my dignity” Pelosi  as a sarcastic view of what’s wrong with our country. So many of our elected officials vote themselves pay raises and benefit increases with little to NO regard for what effect that has on the economy. Those same elected officials are quick to jump on the OMG your over paid and over benefited bandwagon to lay blame elsewhere. Time and time again we have seen the studies that show it is not the middle class workers draining the system, but those in the 100K plus incomes that are being used in the rally cry, to hear Gov Tricky Rickey talk about it all of us are going to be drawing 60K plus a year and laughing to the bank at the tax payers’ expense.  Nothing could be farther from the truth, the AVERAGE retirement benefit for an FRS member was quoted as being ~ $18,000 a year ( I forget which article this was from) a FAR cry from the figures that Tricky Rickey flaunts in his the sky is falling speeches!!!!!  

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

    Nah, we got it, and appreciate good sarcasm! It is a problem at all levels of government, seems the pol’s are out for themselves first, and the state or country is farther down the priority list!

  • CHW1832
  • http://www.floridaretirementsystem.info FRS Options

    We posted it on the Facebook/FRSOptions site. It is difficult to give thoughtful information on it, as it does not compare the two scenarios, but does seem to demonstrate that shutting down the pension will not save money. The controversy arises in that it doesn’t indicate the costs of maintaining the pension overall, but the possible expenses and underfunding that will occur if new hires don’t contribute. It will be a more meaningful discussion when we can compare apples with apples and instead of apples with nothing. We would guess that Weatherford assumed the study would endorse closing the pension, but it doesn’t seem to do that. Now they have to re-do it and compare overall costs of maintaining vs. closing.

  • Ginger

    It has been 4 years since the last post on this article and there is still no relief. I have had the same salary for 10 years. Have we just come to accept defeat? Will we be making the same salary for the next 10 years? How can the state justify this morally or ethically.