Earlier on Monday, FloridaPolitics.com reported on bills filed in both chambers of the Florida Legislature that would foreclose the defined benefit plan of the Florida Retirement System to new municipalities.
This bill is especially topical in Northeast Florida because a major sticking point in collective bargaining between the city of Jacksonville and its police and fire unions involves the FRS.
The public safety bargaining units want new hires in the defined benefit plan offered by the FRS. And Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry wants those new hires to be on defined contribution plans.
With another round of collective bargaining between Jacksonville and its police and fire unions pending this week, these FRS reform bills will loom over the negotiations.
Meanwhile, while Mayor Curry asserts that he had nothing to do with these bills filed in the state capital on Monday, he also says the proposed legislation is “not a surprise,” despite the fact that it was filed on the House side by Jason Fischer, a political ally of the mayor’s.
“I’ve been hearing chatter out of Tallahassee,” Curry said, from “a number of folks over there who would not be comfortable with FRS” as a vehicle for defined benefit plans for new hires.
That chatter, Curry said, is from both chambers of the Florida Legislature, who say that “we hear discussion about FRS and we don’t like it” [in terms of including new Jacksonville police or fire hires].
Curry intends to move forward in negotiations “in good faith,” to “try and get a resolution.”
When the city last negotiated with the unions on Jan. 11, the local Fraternal Order of Police and the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters were given 30 days to accept a defined contribution plan for new hires that Curry called “deservedly rich.”
That plan would offer a 25 percent city match to new police and fire hires, along with death and disability benefits comparable to those that current employees have.
The Curry plan also involves raises for police and fire employees (though not as much as the unions want), and a repudiation of the 2015 pension reform benefit that reduced benefits for those hired since June 19, 2015.