New Sunshine State Leader Pushing Pension Cutbacks

December 10, 2010 ( – Florida Governor-elect Rick Scott wants to cut $1.4 billion from 2011 taxpayer contributions to the public employee pension program.

A Sarasota Herald-Tribune news account said many Sunshine State lawmakers this week signaled their support for Scott’s idea.

Such a move would, for the first time since 1975, force nearly 700,000 teachers, firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and other government employees to make significant pension contributions out of their own salaries. Florida is one of only a handful of states in the nation that don’t require employees to pay for their pensions, the Herald-Tribune said. The pension contributions paid annually by taxpayers typically amount to 9.6% of an employee’s salary.

“Our state employees have the best deal in the country,” Senator. Jeremy Ring, chairman of the Senate panel that is considering the changes, told the Herald-Tribune. “They don’t contribute and that’s wrong.”

“I think the time has come to make those fundamental changes,” said new Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

Last year, the state, as well as cities, counties and school districts, contributed nearly $3.4 billion to the retirement fund.

According to the newspaper, it is still unclear how Scott would make the desired pension cutbacks. The state paid nearly $678.7 million in 2009 to cover its employees. Counties, cities and school districts pad $2.55 billion to cover their employee contribution costs.