Sen. Joe Negron Files Bill That Will Exclude FDOC From Equal Raises Given To Other State Law Enforcement

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Fraternal Order of Police

FLORIDA STATE LODGE

 April 3, 2013

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Florida State Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police strongly supports a much-needed and well-deserved pay increase for state law enforcement officers whose public service has been so devalued by the Florida Legislature over the last 7 years.  Year after year, they have seen their rank and file numbers decrease with hundreds of jobs that have been eliminated or go unfilled. Over the same seven years, these officers have received no pay increases while their cost of living has continued torise like everyone else. Instead, these officers have suffered a pay cut of 3% since 2011 when the Legislature mandated all public employees contribute 3% of their hard earned paychecks toward the pension system. But as we know this 3% is going to General Revenue instead of the Florida Retirement System.

Senator Joe Negron said yesterday morning that addressing state worker salaries who have not received a raise in years was a high priority of the Senate. Specifically, he mentioned that the Senate feels very strongly that certain state law enforcement officers, specifically our Florida Highway Patrol Troopers who put their lives on the line every day, deserve more. The Appropriations Chairman presented the Senate plan that proposes to raise the pay of certain state law enforcement officers by 8% for those who have served 5 or more years and 6% for those who have served fewer than 5 years.

Yet, the 2013 Senate bill would lead to the eventual closing of the Defined Benefit Plan, would increase vesting of special risk from 8 to 10 years, and, perhaps most unbelievably would eliminate benefits for survivors of officers killed in the line of duty and drastically reduce benefits for disabled officers. This dangerous plan places future young officers at greater risk, gambling their future away without proper coverage or reasonable benefits.

In 2011, the Legislature “reformed” the Florida Retirement System affecting both current officers and future hires: reducing the DROP benefit from 6.9% to 3%; abolishing any cost of living increases; mandating a 3% retirement contribution that takes $1 billion dollars a year out of the pockets of state workers and their local economies; extending the years of service by 5 years; and significantly reducing the amount of the employer percentage paid to the defined contribution plan.

No mathematician or actuary is needed to understand that Senate Bill 1392 does not help employees by adding new benefits and it does not maintain the status quo: it takes benefits away from all public workers, including state and local law enforcement officers. Supporting this legislation that will hurt the retirement of future first responders and all public employees, after all the benefit reductions recently made is a little like thanking someone for only robbing you because “it could have  been worse.” If you are mugged, do you thank the mugger for only stealing your wallet? This bill will begin the soft closure of the FRS defined benefit plan and increase vesting to 10 years of service. Enough is enough. In 2011, the same legislators that said these benefit plan reductions would fix the pension system for future law enforcement officers and now, just two years later, they are back for another pound of flesh.

So why is the leadership of the PBA supporting such a harmful pension bill in the form of Senate Bill 1392? Could it be the “thirty pieces of silver” buried deep in legislation in both the House and Senate that gives an exclusive pay raise to a select group of PBA state law enforcement collective bargaining units to the exclusion of other lower-paid state law enforcement officers, all other local law enforcement officers including PBA’s own remaining local units, all state and local firefighters, all teachers and educational personnel, and all other state and local FRS workers. Taking a play out of the Tallahassee corporate playbook, for a select few, for only one budget cycle, the PBA has joined forces with House and Senate leaders to force bad pension policy on everyone, including its own members and former members.

The PBA support for SB 1392 was a quid pro quo for the House and Senate to appropriate money for ONLY certain members of the PBA to receive a substantial pay raise to the exclusion and in the absence of all other unions, including education unions, law enforcement unions, firefighters unions or other state worker unions. They joined Republican House and Senate leadership with the premeditated intent  of stopping any influence on the pension bills so that the PBA, and the PBA alone, can receive the benefit of the deal cut for raises for a select few of the few remaining members that they have. It is very obvious that the consequence of ANY bad pension bill failing is that those select raises magically disappear from the 350+ page bills they magically appeared in just a few days ago. Trading away pension benefits for all law enforcement, all first responders, all teachers and educational personnel and all state and local workers in exchange for a small raise for a select few of us is a bad deal for all of us.

For additional information, contact the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police.

Sincerely,

James W. Preston, President

Florida State Lodge

Fraternal Order of Police

242 Office Plaza, Tallahassee, Florida 32301 • PO Box 1349, Tallahassee, Florida 32302-1349

Tele: 850-656-9881 • Toll Free: 800-873-FOP1 • Fax: 800-873-3670 • Web: www.floridastatefop.org

Labor Council Committee: 888-485-0351

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