Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Florida's coming public employee pension battle

Hal Krantz says it has been years since he brought home a pay raise. After 16 years of teaching, the married Coral Springs Middle School instructor with a daughter in college is struggling to stretch his salary while meeting the soaring costs of healthcare, food and other necessities.

Gov. Rick Scott's plan to compel public employees like Krantz to kick in as much as 5 percent of their paychecks into their pensions is causing quite a bit of angst. This is particularly true of teachers, who traditionally earn modest salaries offset by a broad benefits package, but also state workers, many of whom have not received pay raises in years.

The proposal is included in the budget that Scott will unveil Monday at a rally of tea party supporters in the Lake County community of Eustis.

. . . Around the nation, governments are reeling from the poor economy and falling tax revenues. Supporters of Scott's plan, which would affect not just state workers but school employees and many municipal workers in the state retirement system, say it's imperative to change gears to keep the state and the pension fund solvent.

They note that for many in the private sector, salaries have fallen, jobs have grown scarce and traditional pensions have long since been replaced by 401(k) accounts that require workers to sock away money for their own retirement.


Florida public employee pension reform will pass in some form, and public employee pensions will be curtailed or eliminated in Florida.

After passage, this reform, and Scott, will be wildly popular, and Scott will become a leading national voice, notwithstanding a universally hostile Florida press.

And, politically, this will prove once and for all that you don't put all your eggs in one basket - - public employees unions always back Democrats, so they have no leverage whatsoever with Republicans.

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