local pension

Governor Rick Scott recently gave the nod to several priorities of the state’s first responder unions. Now, those unions are speaking out on what they’d like Florida lawmakers to include in the still-to-be-considered state budget.

The Florida Channel

Local pensions are a ticking time bomb in the state. While funding remains undercut and overdue, lawmakers are working to pass a bill that will finally redress the issue.

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Last week, Florida democrats met in the capitol to discuss plans to oppose statewide pension reform, and now they can check it off their to-do list- the idea has been shot down by house leaders.

Florida lawmakers are moving ahead with plans to revamp local and state pension plans. But while there’s a lot of agreement that local pensions need help—the House and Senate are split on whether to change the state retirement plan.

In happier times: House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (l) and Sen. President Andy Gardiner (r).
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While the Senate doesn’t look like it will consider an overhaul of the Florida Retirement System, the House is not giving up hope it can convince the other chamber.

Last year, the state pension overhaul bill failed, after it got tied to a non-controversial effort to fix local pension programs affecting police and firefighters. But, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli says his chamber is not deterred, and is already looking to file a separate state pension reform proposal.

Local pension funds for police and firefighters are overdue for an overhaul says the Senate’s Governmental Oversight Committee Chairman.

The plan approved Wednesday was a negotiated compromise between unions and cities. But cities have withdrawn their support due to concerns it doesn’t leave many options for collective bargaining. The committee chairman says the comments from the cities reaffirm his belief the legislature is bailing them out.

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Pension reform is slated to come up during the 2015 legislative session. So, could this be the year local pension reform actually comes to pass? What about overhauling Florida’s Retirement System that opponents say is already sound? We'll take a look at what stakeholders are hoping for in the New Year.

Robert Weissert is the Chief Research Officer for Florida TaxWatch, a government watchdog group, which recently released its annual cost savings report. One area Weissert says state government could save some money is by overhauling the Florida Retirement System.

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.

Florida Channel

Pension reform will be coming back up in the 2015 legislative session. But, the question some stakeholders are asking is whether a local pension effort will be tied to a controversial  state pension reform plan again, which caused both issues to die earlier this year.

After the issue died during the 2014 session, should Florida lawmakers revisit a push to make changes to municipal pensions largely affecting police and firefighter unions? A coalition made up of mainly business-backed groups say yes. But, some say while they agree, the recent formation of the coalition pushing for local pension reform is disingenuous.

Bill To Be Filed In 2015

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A coalition of business and policy groups want lawmakers to pass a fix to a troubled local pension system in 2015, after he issue died during the 2014 session when it got tied to a controversial overhaul of the Florida Retirement System. The municipal pension reform mainly affects local police and firefighters.

Florida League of Cities Spokesman Ryan Matthews says overall, it was a successful Legislative Session for local governments.

“I think it was a successful legislative Session for local governments in general. We managed to defeat a number of preemptions and unfunded mandates and really came out relatively unscathed. I think the election year really loomed large over the session as a whole. Only 264 bills passed this year, and that’s really the lowest since 2011,” said Matthews.

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The sponsor of a measure aimed at overhauling the state’s pension system says that effort’s dead, but bill supporters and opponents alike say they won’t declare the win or loss until the 2014 Legislative Session comes to an end.

It’s Day 59 of the 60-day legislative Session. But, with session coming close to close, a procedural move by Clearwater Republican Senator Jack Latvala Wednesday may have blocked this year’s effort to overhaul the state’s pension system.

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Overhauling the Florida Retirement System could be up in the air, after a procedural move in the Senate may have blocked that chamber from taking up a similar effort that merges both the state pension overhaul and a non-controversial effort to fix a troubled local pension system.

Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee)—who has the biggest number of public employees in his North Florida district—says he questions the need for an effort to overhaul the state’s pension system, which he says Legislature tries to do almost every year.

chartingyourfinancialfuture.com

The Florida House passed a bill Friday that merges two pension reform proposals: one dealing with local pensions and another dealing with the state’s pension system. But, it’s unclear what will happen in the other chamber now that the combined bill is still two separate proposals in the Senate.

Rep. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) is one of the sponsors of the merged House proposal. He contributed the part of the proposal that deals with overhauling the Florida Retirement System.

The Florida House is now poised to vote on a newly merged pension reform proposal—a huge priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford. The bill that passed its only committee earlier this week was taken up on the floor Thursday over the objections of Democrats who oppose the measure.

The Florida League of Cities says its disappointed Governor Rick Scott has approved a new law changing how local pension reports are interpreted. The group says the new measure makes local pension funds look worse than they already are.

About 60 percent of Florida’s local pensions are 80 percent funded. That figure is used to determine whether a pension program is healthy. Florida League of Cities Kraig Conn says cities are well aware of the figures, and he says a new law requiring the use of a lower rate of return for financial outlooks makes the funds look even worse.

When it comes to local pension plans experts say the numbers don’t add up. Now some lawmakers are trying to promote some “truth in advertising” as they say, but the effort has raised concerns about how to strike a balance between fulfilling obligations while not further harming an already shaky situation.

A proposal to rate the financial health of public pension plans the same way private companies’ are rated, is meeting strong opposition from public workers’ unions. The measure made it past the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on Thursday after a lengthy debate.