By Tia Mitchell
House Republicans supported Speaker Will Weatherford's attempt to overhaul the pension system, closing it to new members in 2014. Many of these lawmakers are enrolled in the pension, choosing not to select an alternative option that is more similar to a 401(k).
That puts lawmakers in the awkward position of lobbying to close a program to new employees that they currently enjoy.
Here is an excerpt of a story in Saturday's paper that digs into the issue:
Florida House Republicans tried to close the state's pension system to new employees this year, saying it's a ticking time bomb that could cripple the state's budget for years to come.
But many of those same GOP lawmakers are members of the state pension system themselves, according to a Times/Herald review.
In fact, more than half of House Republicans could see the perks of the pension when they retire, forgoing the riskier 401(k)-style plans they wanted to force upon new state employees.
Several of those same Republicans debated in favor of closing the pension system when it came up for a vote in March. Most of them did not respond to interview requests Friday.
Of the three who did, two said they weren't aware that they were in the pension. A third, Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover, said he notified the state this month that he wanted to switch to the 401(k)-style "investment plan."
Spano said Friday that Florida cannot afford to continue adding new employees to the pension.
"The necessity to fund the plan with $500 million from general revenue this year is an example of why we can't continue down this road," he said via email. "We have a responsibility to think and plan ahead on behalf of all of the current and future citizens of the state of Florida."
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