Meet Tommy Price, who after 11 years of working for the largest employer in Florida earns an annual salary of $28,000. As a 37 year old married father of a ten year old, Tommy is much like most of us who are the 99%.
The only difference is he’s employed as a full-time firefighter for the State of Florida Forest Service and after taxes, last year, he took home $22,000 in pay. Yes you read correctly – a firefighter.
Like the majority of state employees, Tommy is not earning a high salary and at their pay scale will never retire with the lavished pensions used to justify the Florida Retirement System (FRS) reform of 2011 by the legislature.
Incredibly this year all state employees are facing added reductions in pay, due to increased health insurance costs passed onto them by the legislature. In Tommy’s case, with no other option for insurance and his wife laid off of work, he’s looking at having to pay $180 a month for family health insurance. A hardship that is further compounded by legislative changes mandating a 3% reduction in pay for all FRS members. In total Tommy is facing an added annual pay reduction of $3,000 (3% of $28,000 = 840 / $180 x 12 months = $2,160).
$3,000 dollars may not seem like a lot to many, but for state employees who are already among the lowest paid government workers and have not had a pay increase in over five years such deductions are crippling.
Yes – Tommy has the option to drop the family from his insurance plan, but is that really an option? As, the price of quality care resulting from a sudden illness or injury is cost prohibitive otherwise.
The brutal reality is legislative actions are forcing state employees into poverty. Once considered part of the middle class, the money taken from the pockets of these families is money no longer being pumped into the local economy.
Is the legislative majority so out touch or is it they do not care about the consequences of their actions?
For one thing is for sure, as the Occupy Wall Street National movement has demonstrated, the people will only endure so much before they unite to take action against those who oppress them.
With over 1.6 million public employees in Florida, legislators need to take notice that in unity working class tax payers represent an overwhelming voting block.
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