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Florida Retirement system

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 02:33 PM CDT
Florida's retirement plan is considered one of the best in the world.
But the state's one million public employees and retirees could be out on their own when it comes to retirement under a bill that cleared a House committee today.

The legislation would require future employees to manage their own 401K. But there is no guarantee the state would fund the retirements of existing employees.
    
One estimate is lawmakers twenty years from now would have to spend 52 % of every dollar of payroll to honor the promise they made to current employees.

The state puts aside about six cents for every dollar it pays in salary for retirement. Employees add another three cents. After ten years, workers are guaranteed a percent cent and a half of their salary for each year they work.

Gary Rainey/Professional Firefighter
"The average retiree in Florida retirement system his pension or her pension is 18,625 dollars".

But the state's house speaker wants to shift all new hires into a 401K plan with no promise of a set amount.

Teresa Jackson/Leon County Teacher
"This would be a knock out. It will have teachers get up and leave".
Dozens of police, firefighters, and teachers came to tell them the shift from one of the strongest plans in the world, would make it hard to hire qualified people in the future. 

James Preston/Retired Tampa Police Officer
"On average a police officer is killed every 53 hours in this country".

Vicki Sims came to tell how she chose to work for the state.
Vicki Sims/Retired State Employee
"I wanted to help people. I could have gone into personnel work in the private sector which would've been, you know, better paying".

There is no study yet on how much the change will cost.
We asked the committee chairman if he could guarantee the existing workers would get their pensions.

Rep. Jason Brodeur/R-Seminole County
"If I could predict future, I'd be in a much different job".

And his answer was why so many of the employees looked demoralized as they left.
Several committee members who voted for the plan say they could change their mind if they don't get answers to dozens of questions about future pay.

Sponsors contend the current retirement plan is unsustainable and the state should more resemble private industry.

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