Attacks On State Pension Plan Not Over

TALLAHASSEE – As Will Weatherford tells it, his plan to shut down the state’s pension fund to new hires won’t affect people already in it.

“We want to leave you alone; we want to protect that pension for you,” the House speaker said in a recent Florida Channel interview.

But the people who represent many of the 900,000 current employees and retirees in the Florida Retirement System aren’t so sure. State workers comprise about a quarter of pension plan members; the rest are teachers and local government workers, including police and fire.

By cutting the pension plan off from new members, they say, it starves the fund of that revenue stream of contributions from new employees and employers.

“If you want to make a numbers argument, you’re not going to win,” said Will Newton, who represents Pinellas and Pasco counties for the Florida Professional Firefighters union. “That’s how they’re looking at this, and it’s not reasonable.”

This isn’t just an academic exercise for Newton and others: Weatherford’s pension overhaul bill didn’t pass this legislative session, but he promises to bring it back next year.

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