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Judge to rule Tuesday whether legislators dug a $2 billion budget hole or not

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford announced Monday that she will announce her decision in the union lawsuit against the state over state worker pensions at a special hearing in her courtroom on Tuesday.

Depending on how Fulford rules, legislators could face a $2 billion budget hole or dodge a bullet. The Florida Education Association and other state and local government unions sued the state last year after the Legislature cut worker salaries 3 percent, eliminated cost of living adjustments, or COLAs, for retirement benefits, and shifted the money into the general revenue fund to save the state $1 billion during the 2011 legislative session.

If Fulford rules against the state, legislators may have to find $1 billion to repay state workers for the money removed from their salaries this year and come up with another $1 billion to repair another budget in the 2012-13 budget year. If she rules in favor of the state, the 3 percent cut from worker salaries will remain. 

Fulford heard arguments in the case Oct. 25 and concluded that the state broke the contract with employees but left unanswered whether the move was unconstitutional.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos is no fan of Fulford, who previously ruled to throw out a legislative plan to privatize 30 South Florida prisons because they used the budget to make the policy change. He predicted that if she ruled against the state there would be "chaos" and the state would appeal the ruling immediately.

"I think this is so clear cut,'' Haridopolos said. "Forty-seven other states already do this. We used to do it  until the early 1970s and every person who pays for their own pensions …thinks it is common sense. Let alone it will blow a $1 billion hole in last year’s budget and cause chaos and blow $1 billion hole in this year’s budget which would cause further chaos.

"If the judge should rule against what I think is the law of the land in Florida -- and is supported by the House and Senate -- then we would immediately challenge that because it would be the ultimate case of judicial activism and, sadly, that ‘s nothing new for this particular judge.”

Comments

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Dave Galloway

Hey Hair-Odopolos!! Blow it out your bought and paid for corporate loving butt . . . Taking my 3% to cut your ALEC/Corporate masters some financial slack is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

Marston

The unions continue to amaze me. EVERYONE ELSE IN AMERICA contributes to their own pension except for these government paid employees. Making someone pay 3% is hardly a burden. If the judge rules this unconstitutional, it will be because she is political and not legal.

I hope they go in and cut everyones pension by 10% if this law is unconstitutional. Not sure how unions have a constitutional right to be free of the burden of paying for their own stuff.

This kind of cram makes me sick at government.

state pug

Hey Marston not sure if you know what they are doing but the 3% that is being taken from the state workers isnt even going to there pension plan. The state has givin it out to local counties and cities to use as they wish. and the staet workers, who have not had a pay raise in 6 years, were not even talk to about this it was said you will do this take the pay cut after 5 years of no pay raises and like it. The arguement is that they did this without puting it in contract then it is wrong. If they were to have said OK everyone hired after this date will have to pay into the FRS system and the money actually went there liek they said it was going to then there wouldnt be a arguement either. State workers prioir to this were told when hired they didnt have to pay and that was a legal contract with there employees that they knowingly broke and are afriad to pay back cause they dont have the money anywhere. which they were told by the judge to make sure of they lost they would have to have to pay back, instead they used it and went opps.

Tom

Marston is a full-of-it troll. Private employers routinely pay pensions for employees as part of their compensation package, either in full or in part. Fact is that public employees (cops, firemen, computer programmers, teachers) are offered pensions as a trade-off for pay scales that are below market. If you check your facts you will find that FL public employees are among the lowest paid in the US.

Shari Gewanter, Educator

The 3% is a theft from state employees. It breaks our contract and we did not bargain for it. That is the plain truth. They just shouldn't have done it and they owe it back. I understand that money is tight everywhere, but I see so much waist, how bout the millions spent on ridiculous testing. The money needed to help balance the budget should not be taken from a fund that is sound, and sets the standard for many other retirement systems. There are always ways to save money but taking from people's paychecks and NOT giving any raise for many years is bad business. It's just wrong and the state owes it back. They can just steal it from Nursing homes and Medicaid like our Governor is doing to "give back" a small percentage of what he stole from education....

Daniel

Haridopolos said: "Forty-seven other states already do this." Really? Well, 41 states also have a state income tax, but we don't. That was one childish comment.

Taken from a study done by Stuart Buck:

"Pensions are merely an alternative way of structuring salary-based compensation, after all: rather than paying a worker’s entire salary today, the state government sets aside a portion and invests it so as to be able to pay out a pension after 25 or 30 years."


Shawn

..

I have been with the State of Florida for 17 years; and I am here to tell you this is flat-out WRONG.

Our pension plan was among the best funded in the country and didn't need tampering with. If the state wanted to change the rules they could have grandfathered current vested employees away from a new plan and left us alone.

I want my money back. I have accepted less for years in hopes of having a secure pension ( however small ) in my retirement. That was part of the deal when I signed on in 1995. I haven't had a raise in almost seven (7) years. This sucks.

Now these Teabagger jerks have come in and bullied the state employees long enough. This S#it has to stop.

Next up, mandatory, unconstitutional drug testing. Just another way to harass and intimidate state employees. This will end up losing in the courts as well. Thank God for our Judicial system.

As a state employee, I want out of this terrible situation. I will take the next job I ccan find. Enough is enough.

Jamie

Would be one thing if the Legislators had these same changes affect their own benefits, but that was never on the table.

I think we all know who the useless, over paid, inefficient, and greedy state employeees are. It's farking ridiculous that they make laws that they KNOW are illegal and then call a Judge who corrects it based on the LAWS of the constitution an ACTIVIST.

Tally has always been bad but dirty-Hari and his Senate is about as bad as it gets.

Harry

Do state employees work, or do they just blog

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