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Florida public employee pensions may be overhauled

People who go to work for the government may have a different pension arrangement when they retire.

Senate Community Affairs Chairman Wilton Simpson has introduced a bill (SPB 7046) that would close the Florida Retirement System to most new public employees and move them to Florida's current 401(k) style investment plan or a new cash balance plan. Only law enforcement personnel and firefighters would be allowed to participate in a traditional pension plan. Employees would have a de facto accounts set up for them and would be guaranteed a return of at least two percent a year on money in their accounts. If the plan's investments made more than two percent, then three quarters of that money would go to the employees, according to a reported compiled by the News Service of Florida that appeared in the February 17 Sun Sentinel.

"I think a 401(k) plan would be good for state employees. That is that most working people have today and I don't think state employees should be treated any differently than people who work in the private sector," said Kimberly Sampson.

The issue of state pensions has come up before. Questions have been raised about whether or not the state should provide such a generous retirement plan to its workers.