Another Legislative Session, Another Cut

The Florida Legislature has imposed yet another compensation cut on many faculty members. This year it wasn’t a pay cut per se, but a substantial cut in benefits to members of defined-contribution retirement plans, namely ORP and FRS Florida Investment Plan participants. We are still studying the details of a bill passed on the last day of the 2012 regular session, but it appears to cut 2.28 percentage points off of the State (or employer) contribution. As of July 1, 2012, the State’s contribution will drop from about 7.43% of gross salary to approximately 5.14%, costing most ORP-plan faculty members something on the order of $1800 per year, not including the foregone earnings that those funds might have accumulated in the future when invested in retirement accounts.

At last word, Governor Scott had not signed the bill (HB5005), but his signature is expected. Recall that last year Scott initially sought a 5.0 percentage point cut in the state’s contribution by shifting that to employees, but had to settle for “only” a 3.0 percentage point cut, in effect, a 3% cut in our pay.

The Florida Legislature and the Governor seem to think that a “defined contribution” retirement plan in Florida should be “very loosely” defined!

At the UFF’s urging, the UFF’s FEA affiliate has referred this legislation to the Meyer and Brooks law firm, the same firm that successfully argued against the constitutionality of last year’s legislated 3% pay cut (requiring retirement plan participants to divert 3% of their pay toward retirement fund contributions). Judge Fulford’s ruling has been appealed by the Governor.

In many ways the latest cut raises parallel issues, but there are differences that require careful legal analysis. Advice from Meyer and Brooks on filing suit is expected soon.

The victory in challenging last year’s pay cut legislation, although not final yet, is important, and was made possible by the dues of UFF members and others whose dues supported the legal challenge led by Meyer and Brooks for our FEA affiliate. If you are not already a member, please join the UFF and help to build and maintain a strong voice for faculty.

If you are a member, thank you!

Membership forms can be found at http://www.uff-fsu.org/art/memform.pdf

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