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As Weatherford's pension bill stalls, concerns of blowback grow

It’s the “other” pension bill this session.

Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, thought he was sponsoring one of the most important bills this session, one that would address what he called a crisis with municipal and county pensions. Of the nearly 500 pensions, more than half were troubled, he said.

For years, the Florida League of Cities has been pushing a fix that would allow cities more revenue from insurance premium taxes now being used for extra pension benefits for police and firefighters. Ring and Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, sponsored SB 458 that they said would give cities more flexibility in how they use those revenues to help pay down pension debt.

Their bill passed the Senate last week with wide bipartisan support. It was sent over to the House on Tuesday, where it has sat ever since. Meanwhile, the companion bill, HB 1399, has been stranded at the House Appropriations Committee since April 5.

On Thursday, Ring said he was growing frustrated by the inaction.

“I thought the House would have taken our bill and moved it by now,” Ring said. “This bill addresses a crisis, and I just hope it doesn’t get tied to what’s happening on the FRS bill.”

Ring is referring to the clash between two other pension bills. Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is championing HB 7011, which would require new state, teacher, county and university hires after Jan. 1, 2014 to enroll in investment plans rather than the state’s current pension. Meanwhile, SB 1392, sponsored by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, would remove the requirement, but still encourage workers to enroll in investment plans.

Though union groups oppose both, Weatherford said this week he wants the Senate to vote his bill. Simpson said the two chambers were far apart on the issue.

Ring, who chaired the committee that was the first stop for Simpson’s bill (which has yet to be passed by the Senate), said it’s not likely the Senate will end up supporting Weatherford’s bill.

“Right now, the sense I get is the House bill can’t get passed in the Senate,” Ring said. “And the Senate bill can’t get passed in the House.”

And that stalemate could prevent his bill from passing the House, Ring said.

“I’m concerned about it,” he said. “I’m sure they’re discussing it at the highest levels of leadership.”

Comments

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Never happy

And just like the legislature under-funding the FRS for three years created Weatherford's so-called crisis with the FRS, his inaction on the local pension bill will have again been a self-inflicted crisis.

Mr. Weatherford, egos cannot dictate policy.

M.A. Salfinger

Weatherford is the very worst Speaker that Florida has ever had.

Pat quinn

The Cities that have gotten themselves in trouble with pensions, created their own messes. They underfunded when the market was strong and increased benefits. Now when the market takes its inevitable downturn, they cry to the legislature to bail them out. They should work with their employees and fix their systems without a mandate from the state.

As for FRS, the employees should contribute to the system. But the system is financially stable and recovering with the upturn in the market.

The solution to all of this is corridor funding. It puts upper and lower caps on contributions by governmental bodies, so they have to do like the rest of us. Work within a budget during lean times and put away money for bad time.

Al Moncrief

Crisis? Last I heard FRS was funded at an 87% level, this is very good. Fitch ratings deems public pension plans that are funded at an 80% level to be "well-funded."

Can't take anymore

Weatherfyrd makes me miss Johnnie Byrd. The only drama this sessions is which one will get the title or Worst Speaker Ever. I guess his father in law will have to again bail Little Willie out once this job expires.

Danielt

Pat, with all due respect your argument is the hook, line, and sinker that was sold to turn people like you against public workers. You appeal to the lowest common denominator, instead of the highest. Your negative mentality is, I don't have it so you shouldn't. What you fail to conveniently understand, state workers are paid less than the private sector, but as part of the pay package the benefits are suppose to help. We knew this when we began working, now the republican tools and the brainwashed masses want to change the rules in the middle or many cases at the end of the game. Also, the average pension paid out is $34,000 and family insurance when you retire is over $1,000 a month. That's not living high I assure you, you disgrace teachers, cops, and other state workers.

eatingdogfood

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Goon Employees To Get Reelected; You Would Have Plenty Of Money and The.
Taxpayer would have Some Spare Change in His Pockets! Democratic Hustler
Politicians + Corrupt Union Goons = BANKRUPTCY BABY! Time To Bring.
RICO Conspiracy Charges Against The Hustler Corrupt Democrats and the.
Criminal Unions!

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