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Blog Directory for Melbourne, Florida

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pension Lawsuit on Fast Track to the Florida Supreme Court

















The First District Court of Appeals granted the request of the FEA to jettison the pension lawsuit directly to the Florida Supreme Court.

Citing that "...the issue was of great public importance, the appellate court urged the Florida Supreme Court to step in now instead of waiting for the inevitable appeal after a ruling at the DCA level."


Judge Jackie Fulford recently " ... barred the state from requiring employees hired before July 1, 2011 to contribute 3 percent of their income to their retirement plan.  Her ruling also struck down a portion of the law that would reduce the cost-of-living increase for those employees."

Gov. Rick Scott--presently 0-4 as far as legal wins--continues to grapple with Fulford's ruling.  My favorite Scott quote:  "This is writing the laws of the land.  This is wrong.  And I'm very comfortable this will be held to be constitutional." (Michael Peltier, News Service of Florida, 3/18/2012).

Next, the Guv actually had the nerve to turn around and point the finger at public employees, indicating we have no idea how we've basically screwed ourselves for challenging His Majesty.  Scott reminded us that employer contributions into the pension fund were lowered by lawmakers at the same time our pockets were picked clean of 3% of our salary.

Meaning, if we don't pay in 3% and employers pay less, contributions toward the individual retirement plans of this state's public servants will be at an all time low. 

Gag me.

Scott faces 14 court challenges over laws passed by the Republican majority state legislature.  Ten remain pending.  A legal challenge over state tuition hikes headed to the Florida Supremes last week.

And guess who is footing the legal bill?  You and I.  The pension battle alone is costing us $800,000 to pay  an Atlanta-based law firm, because pension law, it's just tooo hard. (Read more here).

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/03/state-prepared-to-spend-800000-to-defend-itself-in-pension-appeal.html#storylink=cpy."

All that nonsense about the Florida Pension Fund being unfunded?  WRONG.  As stated by PolitiFact, "...the truth is, it's one of the better funded pension plans in the country. If all public employees retired tomorrow, they still get 87.5 percent of what they were owed."

Check out the PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter here.

Two words, dear reader.  Recall Amendment.


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3 Comments:

At 3/21/12, 4:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

THE COLORADO WE LIVE IN.

Fact #1: Governor Hickenlooper signs a bill to give a raise to state legislators. Fact #2: State legislators steal contracted, earned, fully-vested, and accrued retirement benefits from elderly in our state (SB 10-001, COLA theft bill.)

Our values are warped.

The theft of retirement benefits in Colorado was championed by the pension (Colorado PERA) itself and supported by a coalition of public sector unions. Colorado PERA led a parade across Colorado in an effort to persuade fully-vested PERA retirees to voluntarily relinquish their retirement benefits. After frightening a fraction of PERA retirees into supporting the COLA theft bill, SB 10-001, the PERA administrators deemed their support license to steal fully-vested benefits from ALL PERA retirees. They then went on to advocate for enactment of SB 10-001 before the Colorado General Assembly. I have read accounts that the number of lobbyists hired by Colorado PERA to support the COLA theft bill ranged between 12 and 20. PERA orchestrated a coalition in Colorado to ram the bill through the process in spite of a Colorado attorney general's opinion stating that the bill was unconstitutional, contravening Colorado case law, and a statement from Colorado PERA's General Counsel in a 2008 Denver Post article that taking the COLA benefit from fully-vested retirees was likely illegal. For some reason he had a change of heart, and testified in favor of the COLA theft bill in 2010. What happened in Colorado was, in my opinion, a crime.

Thank God the courts are beginning to correct the outright, unabashed theft of public pension benefits that has occurred in a number of states across the U.S. Read below the clarity that this Florida judge brings to the matter, it is truly breathtaking.

COLA LAWSUIT VICTORY IN FLORIDA! – FLORIDA JUDGE: IT’S ILLEGAL TO TAKE EVEN FUTURE COLA ACCRUALS FROM EMPLOYEES, LET ALONE COLA BENEFITS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN EARNED AND ACCRUED (SEE: COLORADO GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SB1.)

The Florida Legislature attempted pension reforms that were not nearly as aggressive, in terms of risk of unconstitutionality, as those adopted by the Colorado General Assembly. Nevertheless, the Florida Legislature has been smacked down by the courts.

Here are some noteworthy portions of the Florida ruling:

“This court cannot set aside its constitutional obligations because a budget crisis exists in the state of Florida. To do so would be in direct contravention of this court’s oath to follow the law.”

“To find otherwise would mean that a contract with our state government has no meaning.”

“There was certainly a lawful means by which they could have achieved the same result.”

Here’s hoping that one day Justus will prevail in Colorado. Read all about it and support the lawsuit at saveperacola.com.

 
At 3/22/12, 6:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.

 
At 4/29/12, 10:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that Governor Scott claims that State employees should contribute just like the private sector does shows how (not surprisingly) out of touch with reality he is. The 3% contribution is not an optional contribution to our retirement fund, it's mandatory, no opting out. I used to contribute to my fund voluntarily as well. But due to the pay cut (let's call a spade a spade, shall we?) I had to cut back somewhere and I've stopped my voluntary contribution to my retirement fund.

You'll never guess what the State of Florida has done in the months following, it actually sends me flyers monthly requesting me to invest in my future and resume my voluntary contribution to my retirement fund. The State of Florida is wasting money on sending me flyers after it cut my pay.

There was a raise freeze in my office back in 2006. They also cut our $1500 year-end bonus. I am a lawyer and the good governor wants me to pay in to my retirement fund just like the private sector?? Okay, then how about you start paying me a private sector salary? I would never expect that! I went into public service for a reason, well-knowing I am always going to be woefully underpaid and under appreciated, but knowing that I would "feel good" about what I am doing. But I would ask that Governor Scott cease to insult us by stating that we are anything like the private sector and we should be treated as such unless he wants to be realistic about our hard work and salaries (or lack-thereof).

I'm disgusted by this state and if I didn't have to convince my husband (born and raised a Florida boy), I'd be out of here in a hot minute, working at a State Attorney's Office where the base salary is $10,000 per year higher than in the State of Florida. (That's pretty much anywhere else in the entire country.)

 

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