Scott signs pension bill in spite of lawsuit

8:59 PM, Jun 23, 2011   |    comments
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) - Despite a lawsuit from the Florida Education Association and other public worker unions; Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 2100 into law, meaning all government employees to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to the Florida Retirement System.

Scott said that the new bill will save taxpayers and employers roughly $2 billion a year. Since Scott has signed the bill, the new law will be in effect starting July 1, 2011.

"Without reform, Florida's government pensions and retirement system put a heavy burden on our state's taxpayers. As a result, dedicated public servants were forced to face the uncertainty of future retirement benefits," said Governor Scott.

That is unless the FEA doesn't secure a temporary restraining order halting the forced contributions while the lawsuit is in court. The FEA said the change in the retirement contributions amounts to a 3 percent pay cut.

The plaintiffs alleged the new law violates contract rights as well as a state constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to collective bargaining.

The current system used by the Florida Retirement Fund has been in use since 1974 when the legislature halted any payments.

The 1974 law said the rights of retirement system members are "contractual in nature" and "shall not be abridged in any way," according to the News Service of Florida.

The FEA said lawmakers could find other ways to make up the money if the lawsuit is upheld, including closing tax loopholes and fully collecting taxes on a goods sold over the Internet, but lawmakers rejected those ideas in the past.

The Florida Retirement Fund currently covers 655,000 active employees and 219,000 retirees.

CBS4

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