TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Senate Tuesday killed a major overhaul of the public employee pension system that would have closed the pension plan for new workers and put them into 401K style.
The proposal was a top priority for House Speaker Will Weatherford, who has argued that the state could not sustain the state's penion in the long haul. Though the state's pension plan has been regarded as one of the strongest in hte country, Weatherford said that the state should make the change now and not years from now when lawmakers find themselves in a situation where they can't afford to fund the pension and must either cut programs or raise taxes.
But the measure ran into trouble in the Senate, where lawmakers argued that it was unfair to public workers who might take a smaller salary in return for a guaranteed pension when they're ready to retire.
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, in an impassioned speech, noted that this proposal would let workers' retirement hinge on the success of the financial markets and their ability to invest efficiently.
"Some people can’t manage their money," he said.
The Senate preferred a plan that would have simply required new workers as of January 2014 to actively choose the pension plan as their retirement options. If that worker didn't actively choose, he or she would automatically be put into a 401K-type plan.
Technically, there's still room for some last minute negotiations to revive Weatherford's plan.
The proposal that failed today was simply an amendment to a larger bill. Amendments can still be filed before the final vote, so lawmakers could take another stab at it.
Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said that he doesn't believe the measure will get another vote though.