The Florida Police Benevolent Association is backing away from some strident claims in an anti-Rick Scott blast email that even the PBA acknowledges are misleading, inaccurate or poorly worded.
At issue: Scott’s call to change the pension system, cut the Department of Corrections budget by a third and to privatize some prison contracts.
To a big union like the 36,000-strong PBA, which represents prison guards and backs state Democratic FL CFO Alex Sink, that’s a declaration of war. So Miami-Dade President John Rivera blasted out an alert telling members that “your pension is in jeopardy” and that Scott has “vowed to revamp the entire pension system.”
Scott really hasn’t, though. His campaign and website say the Republican candidate wants new state employees to have a defined contribution retirement plan (like a 401k), rather than a defined benefit plan, which can be more lush in a down economy. But, if Scott became governor, everyone working for state government would have to start contributing to their retirement for the first time since the retirement system was cranked up in 1974.
In requiring workers to contribute up to 6 percent, it would save taxpayers/cost government workers about $1.4 billion, according to the Scott campaign and a state Senate analysis.
How does that put the pension system in “jeopardy?”
Rivera said it was a major overhaul. David Murrell, PBA executive director who supplied the info to Rivera for his email, said it’s “in the eye of the beholder. If you’re a state worker who hasn’t had a raise in 5 years, a 6 percent hit puts you in jeopardy.”
Rivera’s email also says “Rick Scott has publicly stated that he will…. reduce benefits.” Rivera, though, couldn’t say where or when Scott said that. Neither could Murrell, to whom Rivera referred us.
Scott’s advisor, Donna Arduin, put it bluntly: “We’re not talking about reducing benefits.”
Murrell said the email should’ve had an “and/or” so it stated that he’ll reduce benefits and/or make employees contribute. Still, Scott never said cut benefits.
As for Rivera’s claim that “Rick Scott has also made it very clear that he supports privatization of law enforcement duties,” the PBA couldn’t provide backup. True, Scott has called for privatizing prison health contracts or having inmates grow their own food, but he hasn’t explicitly called for private prisons. But privatizing “law enforcement?” That sounds more like RoboCop dystopia-noia rather than Scott's platform to save a few bucks at the infirmary or in a prison garden.
Murrell acknowledged that Scott hasn’t clearly said he wants to privatize prisons, but he said that Scott’s call to cut $1 billion from the prisons budget leaves few options. “It’s by inference,” Murrell said.
Then there’s this line: “He plans to change the benefits and the fact that you did your time is meaningless.”
Huh? Scott not only isn’t talking about cutting benefits, he hasn’t talked about restructuring the pension system so that long-time employees get the same benefits as short-timers.
“Probably ‘meaningless’ is a little too strong,” Murrell acknowledged, saying the email should have said retirement plans would be “not worth nearly as much.”
Then comes the whopper: “He has already promised to reduce the interest and COLA rates.”
“He hasn’t done that,” Murrell acknowledged, “But Republicans in the Legislature have.”
Murrell said the union would go through the email and issue a clarification to its members at a certain point.
Here's the Rivera emailer:
Why should you care?
Because your future has NEVER been more at risk!!
Less than 10 years:
If you want to enjoy what your fellow officers with more tenure have for their retirement you have no choice but to vote for ALEX SINK. She is the only gubernatorial candidate that has met with us several times has assured us that she supports us and our pensions. Rick Scott, on the other hand, has vowed to revamp the entire pension system and wants employees to pay and reduce benefits. That means you will work harder and longer than other employees in your same classification. Regardless of whether you are vested or not, your pension is in jeopardy.
More than 10 years and less than 25 years:
ALEX SINK believes that you came to work with certain employment promises, which have allowed you to plan for your future. She supports honoring those promises. ALEX SINK has promised to veto any attempts to harm your pension. Rick Scott has publicly stated that he will revamp the pension system, reduce benefits and make employees pay for their pensions. For those of you that have been planning your future, you will undoubtedetly have to re-plan. Rick Scott has also made it very clear that he supports privatization of law enforcement duties.
25 years or more:
You have definitely made retirement plans and are on the brink of enjoying the fruits of your labor, but Rick Scott has promised that he plans to change that. He plans to change the benefits and the fact that you did your time is meaningless. ALEX SINK believes that any changes are a breach of a contract made to employees and it just isn't right.
Already entered DROP:
Rick Scott is poised to revamp every step of the pension at every stage of the retirement process, and with the Republican led House of Representatives and Senate he is likely to succeed. He has already promised to reduce the interest and COLA rates. Remember the Republicans tried to do this last legislative session and Governor Charlie Crist had to veto it for us. The Republicans will undoubtedly try again this year. No one is safe unless ALEX SINK is elected. ALEX SINK is your only line of defense from the attacks on your pension.
ALEX SINK wants to protect the people that have served the community so honorably and have given so much to ensure the safety of Florida's citizens. Rick Scott wants to take away the yearly cost of living increase and the health insurance subsidy.