Yesterday there was an interesting “letter to the editor” in the “Sarasota Herald Tribune”, called “State Budget Sense”. The letter was submitted by the CEO of a Tallahassee organization called Florida Tax Watch, and lists “87 ideas worth $3.25 billion” to reduce spending. I’m not really sure who the group is, nor their function, but on their website states that they are “supported by voluntary, tax-deductible memberships and grants” and that “policy makers and government employees have implemented three-fourths of Florida TaxWatch′s cost-saving recommendations, saving the taxpayers of Florida more than $6.2 billion”. It sounds like a lobbyist group, which would answer the question of, why would the CEO of a Tallahassee Group, write a letter to the Sarasota Herald Tribune? I was intrigued enough to go to the site, and look at the 125 page report. Among their suggestions, which have pretty much ALL appeared in recent legislative proposals: Employee contributions to the plan of 5% (SB2022 is starting the process at a lower number to get in the door), Reduce the Credit for Special Risk from 3% to 2%, and for Senior Management from 2% to 1.6% (Think HB 1319 and 1543), Re-evaluate and reduce the who is considered Special Risk, Up the vesting schedule from six years to ten years and last-but-not-least, adjust the 3% COLA increases to the actual Consumer Price Index with a maximum of 3%. Obviously this plan is being endorsed by the legislature, and by publicizing it around the state, it becomes propaganda to endorse the bills to cut your benefits. I also thought it was interesting that some of our elected officials were on the task force. They are as follows:
Senator JD Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Policy and Steering Committee on Ways and Means and Designee of the Senate President to the committee.
Bill McCollum, Attorney General for the State of Florida.