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Florida Taxpayers Foot Bill To Shore Up State Pension

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Editor’s Note – A clear example of the Florida Legislature kicking the can down the road.  Florida is going to see some serious financial shortfalls in the next year or two, of which, is no great secret to those who’ve been elected to represent the interests of the citizens of this state. 

Unfortunately, for the taxpayers of Florida, this is an election year and retaining the reins of power took precedent over all other business, as was evident in this year’s legislative session in Tallahassee. 

With few exceptions, one being the Florida Health Care Freedon Act, although, even this didn’t survive fully intact, what we saw this year was a lot of pandering to the conservative base and little appetite for making the tough decisions necessary to get our fiscal house in order. 

One example of this being considerable time spent on a ‘Balanced Budget’ amendment which calls for Congress to stop adding to the federal deficit, although, it’s little more than a suggestion.  Meanwhile, no concrete action was taken on illegal immigration, medicaid reform and other fiscal concerns.  In fact, the final budget reflects an actual increase from the previous year, although, this was accomplished without raising taxes…  This year.

A common theme I hear is, ‘well, Florida is not as bad off as some other states’.  What those who fall back on this line don’t seem to get is that, at some point, these “other” states were not as bad as they are now!   They got to the point of disaster because their leadership failed to make the tough decisions when they had the opportunity.  I suspect for the very reasons Florida’s leaders failed to do so this year. 

There is a perfect storm building hereabouts that will end up being felt most by the taxpayers of  this state.  Batten the hatches, folks!

 

Florida Taxpayers Foot Bill To Shore Up State Pension

By Josh Hafenbrack
Sun Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE – Faced with financial strain on its $110 billion retirement system, Florida has protected the pension fund – and those who receive benefits from it – and instead passed the increased cost to taxpayers.

Starting this week, the state increased by about 10 percent the amount it and local governments set aside for the pensions of government workers, police officers, teachers and judges. Meanwhile, Florida remains one of only five states that don’t require some contribution from the workers themselves.

While other states have made drastic moves to shore up their pensions, such as raising retirement ages and cutting benefits, Florida has not, shielding the 1 million people who are in the system or receive benefits from it.

In Florida, taxpayers fund the full pension cost. And it’s rising.

In 2009, state taxpayers put $679 million into the fund. Municipalities, school boards and counties that participate in the Florida Retirement System contributed another $2.6 billion.

Starting Thursday, that amount will go up. State and local governments will now increase the amount they set aside per worker from 8.7 percent to 9.6 percent of their salaries in most cases. For high-risk employees like police officers, who can often retire early, the amount jumped from 19.8 percent to 22.1 percent.

Read More – http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/florida/fl-pension-retirement-troubles-20100702,0,6335211.story

Tom Tillison

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