Judge Hands Down Ruling, but “It ain’t over … until it is over!”

Judge Jackie L. Fulford handed down a ruling today that would reverse the actions of the 2011 Legislature in assessing a mandatory 3% contribution from members of the Florida Retirement System.

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Circuit Court Judge Jackie L. Fulford handed down a ruling today that would reverse the actions of the 2011 Legislature in assessing a mandatory 3% contribution from members of the Florida Retirement System.  You may read the Official Ruling Here.

The following is an excerpt from the ruling, which is the gist of Judge Fulford’s ruling”



As would be expected, Florida Governor Rick Scott had the following comments;    “As you would expect, I believe this decision is simply wrong,” Scott said in a statement. “The trial judge has ignored 30 years of Supreme Court precedent in a decision that refuses to allow Florida to have common-sense pension reform. This is another example of a court substituting its own policy preferences for those of the Legislature. The court’s decision nullifies the will of the people and leaves Florida as one of the only states in the country in which public employees contribute nothing toward their retirement, leaving working Floridians with 100 percent of the tab. The state plans to file a swift appeal to reverse this decision.”

Scott’s comments would appear to be at odds with the findings of Judge Fulford , who, in her ruling, indicated that the Florida Supreme Court is clear in its ruling, and “only the Florida Supreme Court is at liberty to reconsider its prior ruling”

FRSOptions will continue to monitor the process, and make our best efforts to keep all members informed.

 

  • Anonymous

    This is my favorite part of Scott’s comments: “Florida as one of the only
    states in the country in which public employees contribute nothing
    toward their retirement, leaving working Floridians with 100 percent of
    the tab.”

    As if public employees aren’t working Floridians.

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

    Not only are public employees “working Floridians”, they are also taxpayers. We suspect there are other public employees in other states that do not make employee contributions also, but facts have never interfered with his sound bytes.

  • Frustrated in Florida

    So what will happen to the 3% that has already been robbed from us?  Do we get that back?  Or is it placed with my retirement funds?  How quickly will they stop taking the 3% from my check?  As an educator I have not had a raise in approximately 5 years.  I bring home LESS than before.  Prices of everything are increasing.  This is no way to live…if you can call it living. o/

  • Publicemp

    While I understand the private sector has an issue with government and it’s policies and spending, it needs to be known that the largest majority of said public employees haven’t had raises in upwards of 5 yrs while the elected officials have continued to get raises based on statutory law. Perhaps they should look into that as well as going back to employees not being vested until after completing 10 yrs of employment. I have to wonder how the Governor would do working in some of the public offices…as well as the members of the legislature…for a day. The greatest percentage of us work for minimal pay, a lot less than we’d get in the private sector and we did it for the job security and the benefits…both of which are being taken away from us. 

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

    We would think, if the ruling withstands the appeals process, that they will have to pay it back. It appears they will not stop taking it until the appeals are final – again, providing the ruling withstands the appeals.

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

    We don’t believe you will see any changes made to the process until the appeals process is complete.

  • Nykerprincess

    Our “Governor” fails to see that not only State employees are working americans, tax payers and all that but he also fails to see that we are public servants.  As a former correctional officer as well as being employed now by one of the health departments for the state of Florida our wages are far lower than those around the country.  Insurance rates have gone up, gas is going up, milk and even coffee… in the meantime salaries have not gone up not even the 3% poverty cost of living increase so therefore our already low pay gets lowered because of his ridiculous ideas.  But of course if you are already rich (spent 25mil in his campaign for governor) and are a know crook because of the medicare/medicaid frauds he committed then I guess you wouldn’t care about the little guys either.  This man is a JOKE and I sincerely hope that Floridians kick jim out in the next elections.

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

    Actually, he spent $70 mil of his own money, for a job that pays $175k per year!

  • rdy2retire

    What I am curious to find out is what happens IF the Florida Supreme Court upholds the Judge’s decision. I assume the 3% will be refunded to the contributors. Now, what does FRS do to recoup that money? Do the employers have to make of the lost contributions? This would be a huge budget hole for them to fill (assuming another year of payments by employees). Either way, FRS would now have to increase the contribution amount for the employers so again, it’s a negative budget impact. If they cannot get the employers to compensate the losses from the ruling, then they would have to raise the contribution rates higher than the old rates to bring the FRS funding back to adequate levels. regardless, this means the employers have to pay much more than they are now, leaving less money for a potential future raise and more likely will contribute to additional layoffs. Not to mention this is also likely to push the legislature to hit pension reform from other angles. Be careful what you wish for.

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

    If the decision is upheld, the money is refunded with interest. It will create a budget and legislative nightmare figuring out how to pay the money back, and where it will come from.

  • Pete

    Any idea about the other changes that happened last year…i.e. the DROP interest rate changing and the COLA??

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

    Those changes are still in affect, and were not a part of the lawsuit.

  • Csawhiskey

    My question is will Baron take away the 3% increase he gave the university employees

  • Retired State Employee

    It will more then likely end up like the sick leave law suit where the judge found in favor of the employees but stated he could not issue a ruling that would bankrupt the state. So instead of being fully compensated for our stolen sick leave we were given something like 13 hours back and some other small thing. I forget now the exact figures but I would likely bet that this will end up similar and the judge will find in favor of the employees but the state will not have to pay them back but the 3% will no longer be taken out of their checks each pay period from that ruling forward. 

  • Biagio

     The COLA is part of the lawsuit. Just the DROP isn’t.

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

    Mark A. Davy

    SouthBay Investment Group
    665 S. Orange Avenue Suite 4
    Sarasota, Florida 34236

    941-951-1977

  • Porkchop101

    My fear is that Scott has the Supreme Court Judge in his pocket and he will get it turned back around! Promising he/she a seat in Tallahassee if he/she doesn’t get reelected. There is so much goes on behind our backs that we the people never hear about! The question is “Do judges respect each other as Firemen or Police Officers or even coworkers” that the supreme court Judge would find it hard to turn another judges decision around?  

  • FED UP

    I thank God for a judge with common sense.  How can you offer someone a job promise retirement benefit and then say ooops were going to change the rule and don”t really care how you feel about it.  Of course its ok for the lawmakers to rule that they don’t have to pay for any contribution to their healthcare plan like the low on the pole employees.  Oh yes and don’t forget about the other perks and additional benefits they vote in for themselves including raises during a no raise period for other employees while we have no vote on what the public servants get.  No wonder we are all fed up.  Lets not forget to vote them all out they should never serve over two terms they should have to earn a living so they would no how we live.

  • Babs1029

    Did I just write this?  I have been saying the exact same thing!! 

  • Adgirl50

    The Governor is also claiming (see video) that our pension is NOT FUNDED…of course we know better http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2012/mar/07/rick-scott/rick-scott-says-state-pension-fund-not-funded/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Algernon-Moncrief/100001214311568 Algernon Moncrief

    COLA
    LAWSUIT VICTORY IN FLORIDA! – FLORIDA JUDGE: IT’S ILLEGAL TO TAKE EVEN FUTURE
    COLA ACCRUALS FROM EMPLOYEES, LET ALONE COLA BENEFITS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN
    EARNED AND ACCRUED (SEE: COLORADO GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SB1.)

    The
    Florida Legislature attempted pension reforms that were not nearly as
    aggressive, in terms of risk of unconstitutionality, as those adopted by the
    Colorado General Assembly. Nevertheless, the Florida Legislature has been
    smacked down by the courts.

    Here are
    some noteworthy portions of the Florida ruling:

    “This
    court cannot set aside its constitutional obligations because a budget crisis
    exists in the state of Florida. To do so would be in direct contravention of
    this court’s oath to follow the law.”

    “To find
    otherwise would mean that a contract with our state government has no meaning.”

    “There
    was certainly a lawful means by which they could have achieved the same
    result.”

    “Florida
    law is clear that a legislature can, as part of its power to contract, authorize
    a contract that grants vested rights which a future legislature cannot impair.”

    “The
    elimination of the future COLA adjustment alone will result in a 4 to 24%
    reduction in the plaintiffs total retirement income. These costs are
    substantial as a matter of law.”

    “Where
    the state violates its own contract, complete deference to a legislative
    assessment of reasonableness and necessity is not appropriate because the
    state’s self-interest is at stake.”

    “All
    indications are that the Florida Legislature chose to effectuate the challenged
    provisions of SB 2100 in order to make funds available for other purposes.”

    “If a
    state could reduce its financial obligations whenever it wanted to spend the
    money for what it regarded as an important public purpose, the Contract Clause
    would provide no protection at all.”

    “The
    Takings Clause is intended to prevent the government from forcing some people
    alone to bear public burdens, which in all fairness and justice should be borne
    by the public as a whole.”

    “Defendants
    are further ordered to reimburse with interest the funds deducted or withheld .
    . . from the compensation or cost-of-living adjustments of employees who were
    members of the FRS prior to July 1, 2011.”

    Here’s a
    link to the decision in Florida:

    http://judicial.clerk.leon.fl.us/image_orders.asp?caseid=49809133&jiscaseid=&defseq=&chargeseq=&dktid=87117441&dktsource=CRTV

    Here’s
    hoping that one day Justus will prevail in Colorado.  Support the Colorado lawsuit at saveperacola.com

  • Adgirl50

    Yes…I read the ruling…COLA IS part of the suit.

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

    Correct, COLA is part of the ruling also.

  • Slag120

    I love how Scott was on TV the other day when a Brevard Deputy Sheriff was killed in the line of duty.  Scott wanted to remind everyone of the dangers of being a Police Officer and to say how much he recognizes and appreciates the jobs done by men and women in law enforcement.  The same time he says these things he is stabbing us in the back and attacking our retirement system which we were all hired under.  I hope the people of Florida speak up when election time comes

  • Adgirl50

    Does this go to the court of appeals? and if so, and if this court rules the same way Judge Fulford ruled, is the next court the Supreme court?

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

    The legislature and governor say they will appeal. We believe if the appeal and lose, it will go to the Florida Supreme Court.

  • CountryGal829

    I was a university employee in the state of Indiana until March 2011 and we did NOT contribute to our retirement.
    I undesrtand that no state income tax is one reason people want to move to FL. But if there was a state income tax there wouldn’t be a big deficit and every working person in the state would be contibuting. If they don’t want a state income tax then raise the sales tax by 1%. At least that way EVERY Floridian (and tourist) would be contributing.

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

    It is unlikely a state income tax would pass, and the sales tax is already 6%, so every Floridian and our guests are contributing. FRS isn’t broken, so the legislators might simply quit trying to “fix” it.

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

    At this point ALL FRS members must pay the 3%. If the ruling is upheld, then unless there is further legal action, we would presume NO employees would have to pay. If however, legislation would pass that would make new hires only contribute, you would most likely be safe, as you are already enrolled in the FRS.

  • Tinkerbell65

    Well, we will see what happens when reelection comes around. He made promises to alot of Families and BROKE THEM. So there goes quite a few votes along with State Employees. He refuses to pay hard working corrections officers because he thinks they are just overpaid Baby sitters…Well without those “overpaid (underpaid) babysitters where would the public be?

  • Debunker99

    Is it true that the Florida Supreme Court ruled that they would not be hearing the appeal and that the US Supreme Court will be hearing the arguements ?

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

    We don’t believe that is true. We aren’t sure the U.S. Supreme Court even has standing in a state case.

  • Ricky

    Any word on when the Florida Supreme Court will hear rhe case and make a decision? I really need that 3% back they took from my wife and I.

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

    It is scheduled to be heard in late summer, but we have no idea how long it will be after it is heard before we have a decision.

  • Red Ruffian

    Gov. Scott his legislative toadies obviously think that finding new ways of initiating wholesale cheating, kickbacks, privatising government functions into low performance companies run by supporters is exhausting. That the business model of perpetrating Medicare and other types of criminal medical fraud are hard work. Public employees who turn up every day 24/7 in the patrol cars, class, fire stations, courts, county and city offices doing an honest days work should be treated like criminals. The fraudsters running the sate think a real job working year after year for the public is for chumps and lowlifes.

  • Anonymous

    I was hired by my employer in April 1999 at $9 per hour. I am now paid $13 per hour and have not seen a raise in four years. I direct 5% of my earnings towards my 401k. I have exactly five paid holidays per year and no sick days. I do not get paid by taxpayers! I am a taxpayer and a private sector worker. I own two properties in my county and I pay my taxes. Now tell me why I should be upset that anyone would expect you government employees to actually show some individual responsibility and contribute 3% of the taxpayer dollars you suck from the public teet and invest it in YOUR OWN personal retirement fund.  Boo-hoo. Let’s have a pity-party for all the poor, poor, overpaid & underworked government union minions.

  • Jwcbows

    Maybe you should have educated yourself better. Where do you work, Mcdonalds?

  • teacher1

    You clearly have no idea what you are talking about and frankly its sad that one could be so ignorant and them out those ignorant thought out for others to see. Since you make $13 an hour, it is clear that you do not earn a salary, so you have no idea what this kind of work really is. I am a teacher for the public schools. First of all, we do not have our own personal retirement fund Those are also controlled by the county. Second of all, the tax bracket that you more than likely fall is quite low, and therefore contribute little to the “taxpayer dollars” you speak of that we, “suck” from you. Third, you choose to direct your 5% of your earnings. It was taken from us. I have no problem contributing to my retirement, but dont take it from me. Lastly, I am an employee of Florida, therefore pay taxes, just like every other working American. So if you want to get technical, I am paying my own salary. And as a state employee and a teacher, which I think could quite possibly be the most important job in this country, I think it is incredible that you feel that just because we are state employees, we should just roll over and let the county and state take our hard earned money. If you dont like the way we do things in the United States, leave. 

  • Megancreech

    It sounds as if this comment was made supporting the 3% withholding. Of course Im sure it is. After all, why would FRS want to stop the money flow?

  • Citizen

    because state employes do not have a choice with frs you are either in the regular or the 401k. You want me to suffer just because the state made a mistake way before i came into the system? I am near retirement and now the years OF MY LIFE i spent working with an expectation of a known outcome is to be dashed because of a governor is pandering to a belief. I kept my end of the deal and the deal happens be the LAW! if you made a bad carrear choice (9 bucks an hour-now 13-you need some carrear advice) thats your problem, dont jump me because of mine. i have NO SAY in how frs is administered but when i signed up, i was told what the outcome is and DECIDED to stay in it. Now this millionare govenor comes along with his personal holdings in check and takes no salary thinking it makes him a true servant thats BS. he should have to live on the money the people of florida say he earns for doing the job he was elected to do.

    if i had my way there would be a law that states that if your personal net worth is over one million dollars, if elected to public office, your money shall be placed in a blind trust for the duration of your term

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

    FRS only manages whatever money it is given, and administrates the plan. They have no vested interest in how much or where the money comes from – that is the legislatures domain. If you are assuming we at FRS Options benefit from it, you are way off base, as we have no affiliation with FRS. We simply attempt to offer up information for FRS members.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Phyllis-Draizar-Compton/100002218371989 Phyllis Draizar Compton

    You are obviously not a public sector employee.  Your fact are false.

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

    We think he was being facetious. Read his last line.

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

    Definitely little regard for Public Employees, though the rest of the state may disagree. Time will tell the impact on public service!

  • Betty Jackson

    Really Governor Scott. We pay taxes regardless of a pay raise or not, and we as State employees work really hard. How could you be so insensitive towards others (people), and what if your wife or daughter/sons worked for the State??? It has been six or more years since we as State employees received a raise. Everything has gone up and we can barley keep up w/ all of the cuts and increase in food, gas furniture, and all else. Some are forced to do things that we don’t want to. Is it possible for you to reach into your pockets and give us gas money, buy food or just help with our children. I personally feel that you are being too non caring towards others at this time. We did not bring this Country in the mess that it is in, and when we leave this world, even you-it will more than likely continue to be in a mess. It hurts, it is not fair and it is more degrading to us as workers to have to live from pay check to pay check and still not be able to live more comfortably. .

  • Lynnedward69

    I bring home less then 800.00 every two weeks….as a “public employee” at UCF. I also have a degree.  How am I getting something for nothing?

  • PCFF1457

    Funny your complaining about money yet have the disposable income to own two properties and as far as overpaid and under worked I guess me working an average of 56 hour a week at $15 an hour after 7 years of work and 2 years of no raises would quailify as overpaid and under worked. Oh and that pay and hours is to protect the peopleand propertyof the county I server as a Firefighter Paramedic. All I’m asking for is the contract that was negotiated but upheld the same way I agree you would want any contract you engage in be upheld.