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State Retirees Health Subsidies on Chopping Block

April 2nd, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

State employee retirements are being used as a bargaining chip between House and Senate budget negotiators in Tallahassee. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, hundreds of thousands of retirees could lose as much as one hundred and fifty dollars a month.

Roy McCloud spent more than 30 years working for the state. He receives five dollars for each year, or 150 dollars a month as a subsidy to pay for health insurance.

Without the cash, Roy worries how some retirees will get by.

Its just a ridiculous way, I think, after a person works for the state of Florida all their life and tries to retire on state retirement, which is difficult for thousands of people,” McCloud said.

On Thursday, some Republican House members bucked their leadership and voted with Democrats to save the subsidy.

Victory was short lived. Arms were twisted, a new vote was taken.

Roy isnt surprised.

Its a typical government issue, the way they always work,” McCloud said.

To some retirees, it may mean the difference between buying a new car or giving gifts to their grandkids. But to others, they may have to choose between paying their electric bill or eating.

Democrats call the move a promise broken. Republicans says the cuts are a necessary evil to balance the budget, all the while conceding the subsidies may be restored.

People have to remember that session is a nine-week process. Were in the fifth inning of a nine-inning game,” Rep. Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) said. “We have a lot of ball to be played, so to speak.

But in the meantime, several hundred thousand retired state workers are being left in limbo, not knowing how much theyll have to make ends meet come July first.

House Democrats are asking the State Senate to fight to keep the health insurance subsidy cut out of the final budget.

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