By SASCHA CORDNER - A coalition of business and policy groups want lawmakers to pass a fix to a troubled local pension system in 2015, after he issue died during the 2014 session when it got tied to a controversial overhaul of the Florida Retirement System. The municipal pension reform mainly affects local police and firefighters.
There are more than 490 local pension plans in Florida—most of them underfunded. That’s according to the coalition, calling itself Taxpayers for Sustainable Pensions. The group says there’s about an $11 billion deficit in local pension funding statewide. And, Florida TaxWatch’s Chief Research Officer Robert Weissert says if something isn’t done in the long-term, the alternative would be bad for those expecting their retirement package.
“The people who are really going to be left holding the bag when the pension obligations come due and can’t be paid are going to be the First Responders and to those whom the promises were made,” said Weissert, during a press conference Tuesday.
According to the coalition—which includes the Florida League of Cities and Associated Industries of Florida—the Florida Legislature in the late 1990s imposed mandates on local governments that have made local police and firefighter pensions unsustainable. In the past, it’s been an issue cities and the unions have not been able to agree on, but the initial bipartisan bill that died this year to repeal those restrictions was a product widely supported by both sides.
Other members of the coalition include Americans for Prosperity, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, and R Street Institute.