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Cops Recoil Over Florida Pension Reforms; Deferred Retirement (DROP) Slated to End

| February 17, 2011

Before the 401(k) generation. (Pedro Ribeiro Simões)

The Senate rolled out its push to revamp city and state pension plans, drawing immediate pushback from the state’s largest law enforcement union.

New employees in both systems would be required to join 401(k)-style investment plans with the legislation clearly aimed at phasing-out traditional pension plans.

Base salary – no overtime or other compensation – would be used to determine an employee’s pension benefits, under both city and state plans, according to the two bills (SB 1128, 1130) filed late Tuesday by Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, chairman of the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, which has been holding hearings on the pension overhaul.

The legislation is expected to be reviewed Friday during a workshop by Ring’s committee slated to span four hours.

Ring’s bill affecting the huge Florida Retirement System (FRS), would require still-to-be-determined contributions from the plan’s 655,000 government employees, mostly county school district members.

State analysts have said 5-percent employee contributions would save $1.3 billion, helping lawmakers patch a budget shortfall topping $3.6 billion. The level of funding also would come close to the $1.4 billion property-tax cut Gov. Rick Scott has promised over the next two years.

news service of florida

Scott has offered his own proposal to revamp the Florida Retirement System, including at least some of the provisions outlined by Ring. In another cost cutting measure, both Scott and Ring would bar employees hired after July 1 from joining the state’s lucrative Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP).

The House hasn’t unveiled legislation yet, although House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and other leaders have called for overhauling public pensions to reduce the growing financial liability faced by the cash-strapped state and cities.

Matt Puckett, of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, which campaigned against Scott last fall, said a 5 percent contribution is “way too high for workers who haven’t seen any pay raise” since 2006.
Further, he said proposed changes to city police and fire pension funds are unnecessary. “These are local problems that can be fixed locally,” Puckett said.

The legislation eases requirements on municipalities that dollars accumulated under the insurance premium tax be used solely to cover enhanced pension benefits, a provision sought by the Florida League of Cities. Instead, the municipal pension bill (SB 1128) would allow cities to deploy this money to ease liabilities in city pension plans.

The legislation also would create a task force that could result in stricter standards for police and fire officers seeking disability payments as part of their pensions.

Kraig Conn, lobbyist for the Florida League of Cities, said the league “supports the direction” of Ring’s municipal pension bill. He predicted, though, there would be resistance from cities to the requirement that new hires go into 401(k) plans and not be covered by traditional pensions.

–John Kennedy, News Service of Florida

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14 Responses for “Cops Recoil Over Florida Pension Reforms; Deferred Retirement (DROP) Slated to End”

  1. NortonSmitty says:

    OK Officers, please remember this when your superiors tell you to train your weapons against the riff-raff protesting in the streets over the government pro-bank anti-worker policies stealing their pensions and wages. Because hopefully we will have had enough of this shit just as they did in Egypt to take our system back. Remember that your getting screwed over just like the rest of the workers in this country,so think about who you are fighting for, and who against.

    Even Mubarak and every other despot on the planet had the sense not to fuck over the security forces that would put down the people rising up and kicking their thieving asses, but our banker-loving leaders think they have you wired so tight you will do what you are told, without thinking it is against you and your family and neighbors best interests. Your government an Fox news would not lie to you.

    They just told you don’t matter to them. When the shit hits the fan, remember to return the message.

    If you think this is way too melodramatic to concern your force, that it couldn’t possibly happen here, well, I for one think your wrong.

  2. palm coaster says:

    Here we go Florida as Wisconsin with this same tea party Governor and with the same same attack against the unions, wages, pensions and benefits of our state workers that is an attack to our middle society. Blaming and having a our workers pay for our financial national disaster created by Wall Street, the bailed out banks and also the Federal Reserve.
    These new GOP tea party governors elected, have one agenda destroy the American workers unions so finally our corporations other than setting plants in China and elsewhere to benefit from slavery wages (example China’s paying $130/month to workers) they can have their plants back home at the same shameful rates to their workers. Slavery is very profitable and heading back to our USA.
    All while having corporations pay from zero to slightly over 1% taxes only. And the wealthy paying only 17% on their billions revenues instead of like we all middle society pay 39%. This is not capitalism but communism. Bullies elected by tea parties bullies, at work. I am not an state employee or unionized worker but I will go out on their support because they represent the middle society that I am part of and without middle society in America we cease to exist. Proud of our Wisconsin workers battling for their rights. Keep it up until you succed. Also proud of those 14 Democrats representing thie rights. I sincerely thank them all on their behalf.

  3. Biloxi says:

    Look at Greece, Spain and Portugal… The unions have completely crippled these countries and now you disapprove of the Wisconsin governor for trying to rein in his states budget shortfall. News flash: if your state is operating in the red, its time to make some cuts. Our President should be making cuts as well but doing so would take courage and sacrifice. We are in debt up to our eyeballs, the american people have to live within their means and so should the government.

  4. Bob Z. says:

    What the Gov. of Wisconsin is proposing regarding future union negotiations has nothing to do with the current budget; the unions should still be able to negotiate down the road. Most of the workers interviewed are actually somewhat fine with the pension and health consessions but the union issue is what is most disturbing to them.

  5. Dorothea says:

    There is no budget deficit in Wisconsin, or at least there was not. Wisconsin had a budget surplus until the present Wisonsin governor gave a tax credit to business and is now trying to make up the difference on the backs of government workers. This is Republican union busting and has nothing to do with budgets. It’s just plain politics and getting unions out of the political picture for 2012 elections.

  6. Tina Jeffe says:

    Maybe Florida needs a Wisconsin-style demonstration. We’re in for a rocky ride while this administration is in “power”.

  7. DP says:

    I am a public employee. I am not the enemy, I am not the problem. You, the Government, mismanaged YOUR money. I followed the rules you set up and agreed to. I am not the Enemy!!!!! I deserve what I rightfully worked for and sacrificed for all these years. If you are a public employee and agree, copy and post as your status…Florida Public Employees
    Recall Scott he’s the thief

  8. Liana G says:

    Foward: Dear MoveOn member,

    Madison, Wisconsin, is electric right now.

    Tens of thousands of middle-class Americans—teachers, nurses, firefighters—are demonstrating at the capitol today. They’re trying to stop the new, tea-party governor from ramming through one of the worst union-busting bills in recent history. He’s using the pretext of a budget crisis, but it’s one he created by giving tax breaks to business owners.1

    Yesterday afternoon, 14 Democratic state senators walked out of the chamber in defiance to stop the vote on the bill. They’re in Illinois now, speaking to the press from undisclosed locations to evade capture.2

    Today protesters from all over Wisconsin are holding the biggest rally yet, with tens of thousands of people expected to come. But the national media is not giving the story the coverage it deserves, and without more attention, the Republicans may push the bill through.

    We need to show that millions of Americans are standing with the protesters and help draw the nation’s eyes to Madison today.

    Can you take a moment right now to change your Facebook status to this:

    “Today I stand with the teachers, nurses, and all public employees of Wisconsin who are fighting for their rights. If you do too, change this to your status for the rest of the day.”

    Gov. Walker’s budget represents one of the boldest assaults on workers and the middle class in memory, and it comes at the worst possible time for Wisconsin’s weakened middle class.

    Today is the critical moment. With the bill temporarily stalled after Democratic Senators fled the state to deny the Republicans the ability to vote on the bill, there is a chance to kill the bill for good.

    Organizers expect their largest crowd yet, but they need to know that we have their back.

    Can you help draw national attention to Wisconsin by changing your status on Facebook for the rest of the day?

  9. palm coaster says:

    Go Wisconsin show the rest of America’s middle society how to stand our grounds. These tea partiers and their elected oligarchs have to learn and respect our workers and their unions and not give tax breaks to the coporations and the wealthy on the backs of our American workers.

  10. Jojo says:

    Tell me, has anyone given thought to the 20, 30 or even 45 years of work Federal, State, City and County workers retire at. While Congressmen, Senators in both the Federal and State tiers might work 2, 4, 6 or 10 years and walk away with enormous benefits and pensions for life. Why the backlash at career employees when these short timers take the whole pie? Why. How about the retirement package for Governor even if it’s only one term?

  11. Anonymous says:


    These dolts haven’t a clue as to the technical specifics as to how these gratuitous retirement pension plans operate or the fact that they are crippling many municipalities, abused at every level by those that have a the chance to abuse them. The DROP program is simply one example where for example and we’ll use the firefighters as for this one, allows the participant to begin collecting their retirement while they ARE EMPLOYED in a riskless 6 or 7% side account which they then take physical receipt of once they retire. Many of these people take the opportunity to wait 30 days then come back into the system again to work all the while wtile receiving benefits. The firefighters have the single most lucrative “jackpot” plans of any member in the state excluding maybe that of various county administrators.

    They juice their overtime to raise their yearlyu salaries to reach the highest average for their two or three years (I forget exactly at this time) which their retirement benefits are then paid on, that usually being 80%!!!!!!!!! Its a fucking rip-off and if it was run like a private sector business based on models of efficiency, it would be non-existent. Alll this paid for by politicians from the taxpayers as favors to the public unions and their members for getting them into office. Yes the time has come for tea party, or any other hard-working tax-paying citizen to grap their bat and get into the fight and eliminate these outrageous ripoffs being forced upon the public.

    As a previous advisor providing plan information to Volusia and Flagler counrty public employees, I would love the chance to have a public forum where I could technically and factually outline for the public to to learn just how much they are being ripped-off and the total cost of these plans to our municipalities. I think if the facts were known by all, there would be a lot less greed being publically expressed in WI without concern for them being cut-off.

    The unions need to have their balls cut. Dorthea you are absolutely living a liberal pipe dream to think they don’t have a budget crisis. Again, liberalism is indeed a mental disorder of the highest concern.

    [This comment would have a lot more credibility if a name was attached to]

  12. Dorothea says:

    Anonymous, Wisconsin does not have a budget crisis. Union members have agreed to pay the substantial portion of their health and pension benefits demanded by the governor. The governor refuses to concede because the unions refuse to give up their collective bargaining rights. Sitting down at a bargaining table costs the taxpayers nothing. If that’s a liberal pipe dream, so be it.

  13. John Smith says:

    JoJo where do you live so we can delay our response to your house if you would happen to call for help from your lucrative firefighters making all their money. You probably made some of that big money when you were advising like you said.

  14. Jojo says:

    Johnny Smith, don’t twist the words numbnuts. Cops, firemen put their lives on the line every day. The numbers speak for themselves. Teachers work for nothing in this State that’s because the State pays for their pension because the Florida legislature doesn’t believe in yearly raises. They sure take care of themselves though. As for you Smitty, these occupations never appealed to you for one reason or another, or you just couldn’t pass the physical and background exams. You’re nothing but a punk and loud mouth.

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