DROP Rate Dropped!

the document states the interest rate paid on DROP will be reduced from the current 6.5% to a new rate of 3% for all participants who enter the DROP on or after July 1, of 2010. W

The fears we voiced on Monday have come true on Wednesday.   In a document we secured today, which was introduced this morning at 10:00 am, titled “State Budget Conference Chairs bump issues Senate offer Conforming and Implementing Language” (click on the title to be directed to the link) has some last minute introductions that were claimed to be tabled.

Line 1 of page 7 of the document states the interest rate paid on DROP will be reduced from the current 6.5% to a new rate of 3% for all participants who enter the DROP on or after July 1, of 2010. We have further confirmed that this is already in the budget, so it appears to be a done deal.  At 3% the Deferred Retirement Option Program loses its attractiveness as a viable retirement option.  We will address this in detail in a later post.

The following lines of the document spells out that the door will be open for EMPLOYEE contributions beginning in 2011!  This would indicate that your contributions are already in process, and it is simply a matter of how much you are to contribute.

Continue reading “DROP Rate Dropped!”

This is it, Call your legislators!

This is the last week for the Florida Legislature. It is extremely important not to be lax this week and let the politicians sneak in some last minute bargain and cut your benefits.

This is the last week for the Florida Legislature.  It is extremely important not to be lax this week and let the politicians sneak in some last minute bargain and cut your benefits.  There are still some 30 bills (2010 Legislation affecting FRS) still on the table that could be acted on.  If all 650,000 FRS participants inundate the representatives and senators it will have a positive result.   Please review the Crist SB6 Veto article, where Governor Crist stated the 100,000 calls and letters he received from you were instrumental in his actions!

Don’t forget how quickly the house approved HB 5701 to cut your Health Insurance Subsidy!  It would not be good to wake up Sunday morning to discover a late night session on Saturday ended with  cuts to  your benefits! Check out the Last minute dealmaking in Tallahassee! Deals are being cut right and left this week.  Make sure your representatives and senators know how you feel!

HB 5701 Dropped. H.I.S. stays!!!

FRSOptions.info has just learned that HB 5701 has been dropped. The Health Insurance Subsidy benefit will not be lost!

FRSOptions.info has just learned that HB 5701 has been dropped.  The Health Insurance Subsidy benefit will not be lost!!!!  This is great news.  It seems your calls and letters have once again worked their magic!  Congratulations!

It is possible it will be re-visited in the future, but for now it is safe.  250,000 retirees will keep this benefit!!  The Health Insurance Subsidy is a benefit for Florida Retirement System members that provides up to $150 per month to offset the cost of health care in retirement. 

While this is a short term victory, PLEASE keep those calls and letters going to your Representitives and Senators.  It is your voices that have made, and will make a difference in whether your benefits are changed.  You have been promised those benefits, and you deserve to keep those benefits!

Continue reading “HB 5701 Dropped. H.I.S. stays!!!”

All FRS Legislation put on HOLD?

Last week Senator Mike Bennett, Chair of the Senate Community Affairs Committee (and sponsor of SB 1902.) mentioned in committee “that all of the retirement bills will be rolled into a study for over the summer.” This would … tentatively put the retirement benefits bills on hold, most likely until the next session of the Florida legislature

Last week Senator Mike Bennett, Chair of the Senate Community Affairs Committee (and sponsor of SB 1902.) mentioned in committee “that all of the retirement bills will be rolled into a study for over the summer.”  This would include the most adverse, HB 1319 and HB 1543, in addition to SB 1902 and SB 2022, and tentatively put the retirement benefits bills on hold, most likely until the next session of the Florida legislature. We will try to get verification on this as soon as possible.

It is my understanding the legislators were so overwhelmed with calls from YOU, and there was such an outpouring of concern, that the decision was made to table all bills relating to retirement benefits until after a special study could be done over the summer to determine the best route to take.  This is not a victory! It most likely means the committee will meet a consensus of what changes to make to your benefits, and it will then be easier to pass the bills in the next session of the legislature.

I would again remind everyone of the 125 page report from the Florida Tax Watch group.  You may recall this group consisted of many powerful members of the Florida Legislature (Previous discussion at FRSOptions).  It would be a mistake to believe that the summer study will not propose cuts to your benefits, and it would not be coincidental if the final version corresponds to the Tax Watch proposal.

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It ain't over, A further call to action for FRS benefits!

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.

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.

Continue reading “It ain't over, A further call to action for FRS benefits!”