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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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.

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Scott’s Proposals for FRS

It might be be premature to make any decisions until the details are known.

As you are no doubt aware, Governor Scott is slipping tidbits about his plan for FRS into the news.  Unfortunately, those tidbits are sparse in detail and his full plan is not scheduled to be released until February 7, so it is very difficult to get a grasp of how they will ultimately affect Florida Retirement System workers and retirees.  It is obvious the changes, IF ENACTED, will be significant.  It might be be premature to make any decisions until the details are known.  In the meantime, 1,000,000 strong FRS participants and retirees should be contacting their legislators and directing those representatives as to how they want to be represented in Tallahassee.

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:

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Debunking the Myth of the Overpaid Public Employee

The data indicates that public employees, both state and local, are NOT overpaid!

This article is a must read.  It is a well presented, and thoroughly researched paper comparing the compensation and education of public vs. private employees by the noted think tank, the Economic Policy Institute.

Please follow this link;   Debunking the Myth…

FRS NOT on Special Session Agenda!

FRS is NOT on Special Veto Override Agenda.

FRS is NOT on Special Veto Override Agenda.  You can follow this link to see the Special Session Agenda.

It is interesting that Speaker Cannon makes the following statement : “Consequently, I believe we need to confine ourselves to issues that can be handled within a single day and to focus our business on remediation of problems or drawing attention to future plans. I don’t believe that it is appropriate to rush through legislation or to create new government programs during this limited time.” That smells to me like the intent is to use the new majority to quickly override the selected items, but those that would draw attention, like the FRS issues, will be put off until the regular session starts this winter.

Non-the-less, All FRS participants need to make their feelings known.  We were successful last year, and must fight hard to win the effort to keep the benefits this year also.

Special Session to Override Vetoes

Florida legislature has called a special session to begin on November 16th at 10:00 specifically to consider overriding the vetoes Governor Charlie Crist

The newly elected Florida legislature has called a special session to begin on November 16th at 10:00 specifically to consider overriding the vetoes Governor Charlie Crist instituted back in May.

As you will recall, Crist’s veto nullified a reduction in the interest rate paid to DROP participants from 6.5% down to 3% in House Bill 5607. It also would have established the basis for employer contributions into the pension plan.

While we don’t know if those line item vetoes will be a target of the special session, we can only imagine the legislators will be keen on overriding anything that Crist Vetoed. You will recall that these are the bills that passed without being discussed in committee where opposing views could be voiced.  It is essential that all 685,000 members contact  their Representatives and Senators and urge them to NOT override the FRS veto’s, as well as making sure your Legislators know that you do not want them reducing or changing the benefits that were promised to you at the time of employment.   Numbers count,  encourage your fellow workers and FRS members to call and share this information.

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