Sunday, March 31, 2013

Florida: How to discourage the best and brightest from going into education.

From News, by Christopher Giller

I am extremely concerned with what is happening in Tallahassee regarding education. Dangerous legislation is in the process of being passed by our state representatives.

In particular, House Bill 7011, which is an effort to reconstruct the Florida Retirement System. This reconstruction would not only discourage our best and brightest graduates from going into education and other important public occupations, but it would harm hard-working taxpayers and those who are already participating in the Florida Retirement System.
House Bill 7011 is an attempt to end the Florida Retirement System and force new employees into a 401(k) style retirement plan. Legislators are attempting to fix something that is not broken.
The Florida Retirement Fund is operating very effectively. If this bill is passed, the base of future teachers and other public workers needed to fund the system will be depleted because the new teachers will be putting their retirement money into a private account. Where will the money come from to fund those who worked for 30 plus years making contributions to a plan that was promised as part of their contract?
Two places: First, public employees will be asked to contribute more to their retirement plans, which were negotiated as part of the compensation in their contract.
Next, taxpayers will have to foot the rest of the bill.
So why would our legislators want to privatize the Florida Retirement System when the math is clear that it is not a responsible decision? Eventually, legislators argue that it will save taxpayers money because the state won’t have to pay into the retirement system at the current rate. Instead, participants will depend on the market to gain interest, but what happens when the market suffers a correction and it is a public employee’s turn to retire after a dedicated career?
These people will have to turn to other government programs that are funded by taxpayers. It is very simple, people pay into the Florida Retirement System, the state matches contributions as part of the public employees’ contract, the money is invested in conservative bonds and funds, and people get the money they have been counting on after working a long career.
This is another attempt at taking short cuts to try to balance the state budget. Many argue, why should public employees get a pension plan when other workers have to fund their own retirement?
To begin with, the retirement contribution that the state makes should be viewed as part of a public employee’s salary, which in Florida, for teachers, is around $10,000 less than in other states. Second, teachers and many other dedicated workers, with equal or sometimes superior credentials, make much less than those in the private sector.
Therefore, they have less money to contribute each month to a 401(k). My father has always preached, “You get what you pay for.”
Florida, what caliber of people do you expect to attract to public service jobs when short cuts like the one in House Bill 7011 are taken at the expense of public employees?
Please contact your local representatives and Governor Scott. Tell them that House Bill 7011 is an irresponsible bill. It is vital to teachers and other public employees that these representatives hear from you as soon as possible. This bill is in danger of being passed in this current legislative session. The quality of education your children receive will be greatly impacted by this bill.