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After Refiling Bipartisan Local Pension Bill, Sponsors Hope It Stands Alone In 2015

Florida Senate

A bipartisan local pension reform bill has been filed for the third year in a row. The measure died earlier this year after it was tied to a controversial effort to overhaul Florida’s Retirement system.

“We have passed it out of the Senate the last two years,” said Sen. Rob Bradley. “Unfortunately, it has not passed the House. Hopefully, the third time’s the charm.”

The Fleming Island Republican along with Sen. Jeremy Ring (D-Margate) are returning with a bill aimed at fixing troubled local pension programs mainly affecting police and firefighters that Bradley calls “a ticking time bomb.”

“Over 60 percent of our local pensions are underfunded,” Bradley added. “What that means is we made promises to our police and fire professionals that work for our local governments and if we don’t do something different, then we’re not going to be able to live up to those promises that have been made. And, that’s not fair to our valued police and fire professionals and it's not fair to our taxpayers.”

While some stakeholders say they wouldn’t mind having both local and state pension reform efforts tied together again, Bradley thinks they’re two separate issues.

“What has kept local pension reform from going forward over the last two years is the desire on the part of the House to tie those two issues together,” added Bradley. “So, I think for us to finally be successful and get local pension reform, the two issues really need to be separate.”

Ring has also made similar remarks. Meanwhile, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli has said for now the two issues are moving separately. And, if there’s not “an appetite” for it in the Senate in 2015, he adds state pension reform won’t happen.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.