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Jeremy Ring disowns task force’s pension reform move

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State Sen. Jeremy Ring is lashing out against a government-efficiency task force report that again is recommending the state’s pension system be closed to new hires.

Ring released a statement through the Florida Senate Democratic Office on Tuesday.

He is actually a member of the Task Force on Government Efficiency, having been appointed by outgoing Senate President Andy Gardiner.

“The Florida pension fund is the gold standard for the state of Florida, the only part of the state that’s not only stable but strong,” said Ring, a former Yahoo executive.

“By injecting a political agenda into its operations, the changes to the fund would not only bring about its eventual collapse, but jeopardize the state’s bond ratings and financial stability.”

The Naples Daily News on Monday reported that the Task Force, created in 2006 and meeting every four years, said the state “could save $9.8 billion in 26 years if the Legislature closes the Florida Retirement System pension plan to new employees, an idea already rejected by lawmakers.”

The task force made the same suggestion four years ago.

For years, House Republicans have pushed some version of pension reform that fizzles out in the Senate. The House wants to move new state workers into 401(k)-style retirement accounts, as most private companies offer.

The Florida Retirement System, the nation’s fourth-biggest public retirement system, is currently 87 percent funded, Ring says.

As the Tampa Tribune once explained: “Financial experts generally call pension plans healthy if they’re at least 80 percent funded. That’s because employees retire at different times, meaning a run on the bank is unlikely.”

“There’s not a legitimate pension expert in this country that would sound the alarm on our state’s pension fund, and to suggest otherwise is a disservice to the beneficiaries, and the taxpayers of Florida,” Ring said.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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