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State Employees Feel Assaulted

March 16th, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

More than a half dozen lawmakers are targeting state employees for cuts and lower benefits as they search for ways to fill a three billion-dollar gap in funding. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, their union says the plans will hurt, not help the state.

One plan would cut state salaries. Another would make every employee pay part of their health care, and / or a percentage of their retirement. Retirees might have to pay market price for insurance.

Police and fire benefits could be cut by a third. State employees could also have to wait longer to retire.

AFSCME union members walked the Capitol looking for sympathetic ears. Their message, a promise is a promise.

“If I work 25 years for an employer, I would expect him to belly up to the bar, if he said he would at the beginning,” state employee Keith Dibell said.

While looking for sympathy, they got little.

What the union says is that cutting salaries or making state employees pay for part of their benefits will hurt the economy. There will be fewer pizzas purchased and maybe books won?t be bought.?

Union President Jeannette Wynn says with a dozen or more bills looking to reduce pay and benefits, State employees feel like they are under attack.

“Now that they are looking at gutting the benefits, taking away jobs security, why is there a need to work for the state of Florida?” Wynn said.

Rep. Tom Grady’s bill would completely revamp how retirement is figured…all to the benefit of the state. He says if state employees can do better in the private sector, have at it.

“Go for it! Get a job in the private sector. I believe in markets and you’re worth what you’re worth,” Grady said.

Lawmakers are already backing off some of the more drastic changes, but hundreds of thousands of public servants will be on pins and needles till lawmakers go home.

There are 150-thousand state workers in Florida costing taxpayers more than seven billion dollars in salaries and benefits

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