Florida Public Employees
An unedited commentary from a fellow Florida Public Employees in response to “Is overhauling Florida Retirement System a greater risk than doing nothing?” – featured in the Ocala Star Banner.
Commentary by Joe Bavlsik
“There was a time, not too far in the past, when the FRS pension fund was over 100% funded. Because of this, a poor decision was made at that time to reduce employer contributions, rather than build up the fund for less heady days.
Now, when the 2007-8 recession hit and impacted the market, the value of the fund decreased significantly. However, instead of increasing employer contributions to compensate for this, another poor decision was made to let the fund slip under the 100% funding mark. Long story short, the State is all too happy to reduce employer contributions in the good times, but loathe to increase them when the market is under-performing.
The next stellar idea was to have Public Employees subsidize the insufficient employer contributions, via the imposition of the 3% – State of Florida Public Employees Income Tax.
Sad to say, as it worked out, these monies were NOT used to shore up the pension fund, but rather given back to FRS employers in the way of a 3% reduction in the already insufficient contributions they make to the FRS fund. And now our ‘all-seeing’ legislators are belly-aching about a 500 million ‘hole’ in the program (which they helped create), while at the same time climbing all over each other to figure out how to spend the 1.2 billion dollar budget surplus that has somehow ‘mysteriously’ appeared! This is, not coincidentally, roughly the amount that Public Employees have paid in ‘Income Taxes’ this year.
AM I THE ONLY ONE TO SEE THE PROBLEM HERE?
Far be it for me to complain about an issue without presenting the solution, so perhaps the brain trust in Tallahassee may wish to consider this: Number One: ELIMINATE the 3% State of Florida Public Employees Income Tax immediately. Deciding to work for government does NOT mean that you should be required to pay for your OWN benefits.
Number Two: Establish a new employer contribution to PROPERLY and ADEQUATELY support the FRS pension fund. We did it for so many years without any problems at all – can anyone guess why it’s a cluster*&#@ now?
Number Three: Perhaps the most important point, Public Employees ARE the government! Stop treating us as a liability and keep the commitments you made to us when we were hired. We are NOT here to be the cause of the problems that our ‘leaders’ created!
It’s time that all of us recognize that we’re in this together, and start to work on this as a team, not as adversaries…”
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