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Senate leaders nearing agreement on a pension deal

After hours of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Senate leaders are close to a pension deal to require state and local government workers in the Florida Retirement System to face a salary cut to put money into their retirement. The estimated $1 billion in savings to the state will be plowed back into the state general revenue account.

The proposed amendments will reduce salaries two to six percent to pay for retirement, depending on their salary level, phase in the elimination of the DROP program, eliminate the annual cost-of-living, and retain the defined benefits program except for elected officials and senior managers who will be required to join the 401k-style defined contribution plan. 

"We will accomplish a bill here that is a good bill,'' said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, a key negotiator of the deal before they temporarily postponed the debate.

The Senate version of the bill has changed twice already as legislators and Gov. Rick Scott look to the pot of money spent by the state for worker benefits as an enticing place to close the $3.8 billion budget gap.