There has been a long-standing contract for educators and other public employees. It has been understood that their salaries would be slightly less than other professionals in exchange for due process and a moderate retirement.
After decades of anti-educator legislation, that contract has been completely shattered by Florida politicians.
The wage gap between educators and other professionals grown exponentially. Due process is largely a thing of the past for teachers in Florida, and the promise as a secure retirement is getting more and more elusive.
The Florida Retirement System (FRS) is routinely found to be one of the healthiest and well-funded in the country. Despite this fact politicians continue to attack it.
And since public education employees comprise the largest portion of the FRS, even small changes to this sector have a tremendous impact on the entire system. National and state data on salaries and retirement show Florida’s educators and staff professionals are already at or near the bottom in almost every ranking – even though their job performance and students’ success is at the top.
The FRS is vital to the state and its local economies. Pension benefits generate a significant amount of economic activity in Florida. These dollars earned by retirees go back into our economy, paying for food, clothing, and housing. Retirement benefits create and support thousands of jobs across all Florida communities.
The National Institute on Retirement Security estimates that every $1.00 ‘invested’ by Florida taxpayers in retirement plans supports $4.47 in total economic output. With retirement benefits for public employees representing less than 2½ percent of state and local budgets in Florida, it is a small investment with an oversized impact.
For all of those reasons, FEA opposes closing the FRS defined benefit plan as an option to new employees. Furthermore, FEA supports restoration of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for all service earned that was eliminated in 2011. We stand with police, firefighters and other public sector unions in advocating for a prospective and incremental restoration of the COLA at a minimum.