For public employees, a pension is a promise of financial security during retirement in return for their public service. In early 2021, the State Treasurer reported that our state employee and teacher pension funds were in serious trouble. The timing couldn’t have been worse, coming in the midst of a global pandemic when public employees and educators were working incredibly hard to keep our state programs and public schools operating. They rightly expected that the promise of their pensions would remain intact.
During the off-session, the Pension Benefits, Design, and Funding Task Force met extensively and reached an agreement between legislators and labor union officials representing teachers and state employees. They issued a final report in January 2022 which became the basis for S.286, now Act 114, legislation that modifies various public pension and post-employment benefits and is expected to reduce the state’s long-term unfunded retirement liabilities by approximately $2 billion. The new law, which will not impact current retirees, invests over $200 million in one-time state funding into the pension funds, increases current employee contributions, modifies cost-of-living adjustments, commits to ongoing state funding, and transitions to pre-funding retiree health benefits.
This legislation is the result of an enormous amount of work and collaboration by legislators, union officials, and skilled legislative staff. It passed the Legislature unanimously, and after Governor Scott inexplicably vetoed the bill, the Legislature unanimously overrode his veto (a historic first). I am incredibly proud of the process, legislation, and unified, tri-partisan support for our teachers and state employees during this time of crisis.