Some better news, new amendments to SB2100 an HB1405

Today Senator Ring introduced several amendments to SB 2100 that (as we read and interpret) make the following notable and positive changes

Wow, what a difference a day makes.  Today Senator Ring introduced several amendments to SB 2100 that (as we read and interpret) make the following notable and positive changes:

  • ·         The DROP would be extended for five more years.  This would allow members to enter the DROP up until  July 1, of 2016.
  • ·         Special Risk would retain the normal retirement ages of 25 years of service, or age 55.
  • ·         Allow  up to 300 hours of overtime in the calculation of Average Final Compensation
  • ·         Specifies DROP members do not have to make employee contribution.

These are all steps in the right direction!

Continue reading “Some better news, new amendments to SB2100 an HB1405”

Rep. Tobia offers severe amendments to HB 1405!

Representative John Tobia (Republican from Melbourne) offered five new amendments to House Bill 1405. The amendments would bring HB 1405 in line with Governor Scott’s recommendations

Representative John Tobia (Republican from Melbourne) offered five new amendments to House Bill 1405.  The amendments would bring HB 1405 in line with Governor Scott’s recommendations.  As we read and interpret the changes, they include:

  • ·         Reduces the service credit for future years of service in the Special Risk, Elected Officers, and Judges from 3% to 2%.    Amendment 460885
  • ·         Eliminate the Cost of Living Adjustment for Pensions and the DROP after July.  Amendment 279579
  • ·         Eliminate overtime in the calculation of the Average Final Compensation.  Amendment 696491
  • ·         Raises the Employee contribution up to 5% across the board (it had been reduced to 3% in committee).  Amendment 328909
  • ·         Reiterates the closing of the Pension Plan after July 1, and mandates all new members to the Investment Plan.  Amendment 251959

 

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Senate backtracks, new bill proposed!

The Senate Budget Committee introduced a new Committee Bill today, SPB 7094. The bill reworks many of the terms of SB 1130 to the detriment of current members.

The Senate Budget Committee introduced a new Committee Bill today, SPB 7094.  The bill reworks many of the terms of Senator Ring’s SB 1130 to the detriment of current members, and brings the Senate version much closer to the House version.    The committee is headed by Republican Senator J.D.  Alexander.  As we read the new proposal, which is to be heard by the Committee on Wednesday, it proposes to:

  ·         Does away with the DROP program after July 1, of 2011.  It appears to read that you must enter the DROP prior to that date in order to be eligible.  (lines 1857 through 1862)

 ·         The Investment Plan will be mandatory for ALL new hires after July 1, 2011, and will not be eligible for a Pension. (lines 888 through 896

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Committee Approves SB 1130, Rep files HB 1405.

The Senate Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability approved a version of Senator Ring’s proposed Senate Bill 1130 today by a vote of 12 to 1.

The Senate Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability approved a version of Senator Ring’s proposed Senate Bill 1130 today by a vote of 12 to 1.  This was done on the heels of House Bill 1405 filed by Representative Workman from Brevard.  We are not experts on the legislative process, but believe the bill will now go to the Budget Committee for their approval.


As we read the final version of SB 1130, and the myriad amendments we have pieced together we believe it proposes the following important aspects :

  • The proposal eliminates the Pension Plan for all employees hired after July 1, 2011 that make more than $75,000 per year and mandates participation in the FRS Investment Plan for those employees.  A last minute amendment has preserved the Pension Plan for those making less than $75,000, UNLESS you are in the Elected Officers Class, the Senior Management Class.  Member those classes are required to  participate in the Investment Plan is mandatory regardless of Income.
  • A notable change is the proposal now allows 300 hours of overtime and up to 500 hours of accrued leave time in the computation of Average Final Compensation for service before July 1, 2011.   It does away with all  accumulated annual leave pay for service after that date.
  • Employees will make contributions into their FRS Investment Plan.  The contribution schedule is 0% on the first $40,000 of compensation, 2% on compensation from $40,000 to $75,000, and 4% on compensation over $75,000.  They amended the original version to contain language that seems to limit the employee contribution to no more that 2% of total compensation for regular and special risk members, and a maximum of 4% of total compensation for those in the Elected Official and Senior Management Groups.
  • There is also some new language amended to read that NO employee contributions would be required for years in which the plan is 100% funded.  That amendment would raise more questions to us than it answers, but let’s hope it is as simple as it sounds.
  • The vesting schedule for employee contributions is immediate, and for employer contributions vesting is on a graduated scale as follows:

Continue reading “Committee Approves SB 1130, Rep files HB 1405.”

Thoughts from a non FRS member!

Scapegoating public employees seems to be more of an assault on working people and the middle-class,

The following is a letter we received from a Tax-paying Florida Citizen, who is not associated with the Florida Retirement System.  We found it to be refreshing, and wanted to share it with our readers.  Thank you for your perspectives Mr. Cassidy!

To FRS Options,

I am not in the FRS.  I am also not related to anyone in it. I am really just a concerned Florida taxpayer, who does not believe that scapegoating public employees is fair or right. I do not believe that one small group of people should be punished, and essentially “taxed,” just because they chose a job or a career in public service.

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A letter to FRS members from one of you!

NEVER come across as negative, conflict oriented, or otherwise play into the hands of the politicians, who want pictures of workers with pitchforks massing as the gates.

We received this letter from the following individual, and felt it was such a well rounded and wonderful perspective,  that with the author’s permission, we have copied it verbatim.  I urge you ALL to read it, absorb it, and take action accordingly!  Thank you Paul!

Subject: Concern over Legislative Season
By way of introduction, I am a retired Martin County deputy. Politically I am libertarian…

As I read the various posts on Facebook and elsewhere by public sector employees, I am struck with a fear that the attitude being conveyed by far too many public employees is playing directly into the aims of the political structure and their media supporters. The actions in Wisconsin are especially troubling. The political power structure wants to be able to paint the public employees as merely union followers using a pink brush, recognizing that the American voter, suffering under the current economic situation, can be easily led to consider public employees as the problem.

Continue reading “A letter to FRS members from one of you!”

Florida Legislators Benefits

Florida state legislators are members of the Florida Retirement System, just like every other State, County, or FRS member.

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).

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The Governor’s Proposal for FRS Reform.

Rick Scott has released his proposal for reform of the Florida Retirement System. As expected, the changes are far reaching and dramatic.

Newly elected Governor Rick Scott has released his proposal for reform of the Florida Retirement System.  As expected, the changes are far reaching and dramatic.  The Governor’s Bill on Pension Reform (beginning of page 610) proposal is 213 pages long, so we have attempted to hit the highlights, as the details will unfold ad infinitum over the next several weeks.

“Floridians shouldn’t have to send more of their MONEY to Tallahassee to pay for non-essential government programs or solely fund the retirement programs of government employees.”

This quote from Governor Governor Scott’s speech today in Eustis seems to sum his position on the Florida Retirement System up neatly, by lumping you in with “non-essential government programs”.  Along with cutting your benefits, and taxing you to pay for future benefits, Governor Scott kicked off his self-proclaimed “job’s budget” by eliminating almost 9000 jobs in the state!

Continue reading “The Governor’s Proposal for FRS Reform.”

FRS Legislative Alert, HB 303

House Bill 303 was introduced by Representative Fredrick Costello (click for contact information)of Ormond Beach. It is a far reaching and devastating proposal.

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)

Continue reading “FRS Legislative Alert, HB 303”

FRS Change Ahead

Judging from the amount of media coverage the Florida Retirement System and your benefits are receiving, it isn’t a question of whether there will be changes made this legislative session, but a question of what change and how much.

“Change is inevitable”…

After last weeks run-in with HB 303, we might review the overall challenge to FRS Participants.  Judging from the amount of media coverage the Florida Retirement System is receiving, it is not a question of whether there will be changes made, but a question of what change and how much.  Our newly inaugurated governor, Rick Scott, has made it very clear that he believes FRS is a “ticking time bomb”. Last year’s legislative session included over 35 bills introduced to make changes at FRS, and we can speculate that those proposals might simply be foreplay for this session’s action.  Governor Scott has announced he will make his recommendations known by February 4th.

The Florida League of Cities has waged a full scale war against your Pension.  Representatives and Senators from both parties, from Senate President Mike Haridopolis, a Republican,  to Senator Jeremy Ring,  a Democrat  and chairman of the Senate panel that is considering the changes, are out to change the Florida Retirement System.  Senator Mike Bennett announced his intention to introduce legislation to make sweeping changes months ago (See Is Florida Paying Former Employees too much).   Florida Tax Watch has recommended far-reaching changes of the Florida Retirement System

Why  is this such a major issue all of a sudden?  As of the FRS Annual Report from June 30, 2008, the Pension Trust was slightly “overfunded”.  When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in September and created a financial panic, the assets in the plan dropped significantly, and the fund became “underfunded” for the first time in 11 years.  As of the most recently published annual report, for the period ending June 30, 2009, the fund was only 87.5% “funded”, with some $96.5 billion.  According to the MyFRS website, as of December 31, 2010, the FRS pension assets were up to almost $124 billion.  That is putting the fund assets back on par with where they were in 2008 when it was fully funded, and is a gain of some $30 billion since the 87,5% funding report .  According to the FRS and SBA Annual reports, the amounts are as follows:

Continue reading “FRS Change Ahead”