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What Florida's Pension Ruling on Means for State Workers

Mar 6, 2012

Today's ruling by Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford throws a huge wrench into the state budget process that was supposed to be decided this week.

If you're a state worker, it could mean a refund of the three percent most of you saw taken from your salary on July 1.

But don't start spending your refund checks yet -- the state is bound to appeal, and this whole thing will end up in the Florida Supreme Court.

Gov. Rick Scott and Legislative leaders came up with the three percent pay cut last year. They said it was a way to help reimburse the state for the cost of worker pensions.

That money didn't go directly into pensions, though -- Florida has one of the best-funded state pension plans in America.

Instead, it helped plug a hole in the general budget.

In her ruling, Fulford said lawmakers broke the contract with state workers. She wrote:

Defendants are further ordered to reimburse with interest the funds deducted or withheld, pursuant to the challenged provisons of Senate Bill 2100 (the state budget), from the compensation or cost-of-living adjustments of employees who were members of the FRS prior to July 1, 2011.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos says this could blow a billion-dollar hole in the state budget. His budget chief, Sen. JD Alexander, says it's not going to change a thing.