Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Pension Case Moves Directly To Florida Supreme Court

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Teachers have been taking a 3 percent cut to their paychecks since July 2011.

Editor’s note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Tasnim Shamma.

The Florida Supreme Court accepted a public pension case last week that challenges a law passed in July that requires public employees to contribute 3 percent of their paychecks toward their retirement.

The Florida Education Association says this is unconstitutional and has been fighting this law since last year.

Since 1974, the state’s retirement system has been┬ánoncontributory,┬áso employees were never expected to pay into the system. Though it seems logical for teachers to pitch in to pay for their own retirement,┬áMark Pudlow, a spokesman for the FEA,┬ásays you need to look at the whole picture.┬áCutting 3 percent from a teacher’s salary is a big hit. In Florida, a teacher earns $10,000 less than the national average and retirement benefits are also lower.

“The salaries for every classification of public service workers are lower than the national average,” Pudlow said. “Anyone who’s employed as a teacher is affected – everyone – from the principal to the custodian.┬áWe believe that the lawmakers broke a contract.”

Pudlow said the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the case was good news for public employees who are looking to get their money back — from teachers to firefighters — because it would be skipping the appellate route and would allow for a faster decision. The first oral argument is scheduled for 9 a.m. on September 5 and a decision is expected in the weeks or months after the court session begins.

Are you a teacher who has three percent of your wages deducted from each paycheck? Tell us in the comments about how this state pension tax has been affecting you.

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