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State workers spared pay cut

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From Sunshine News: Although for a fifth straight year lawmakers have declined to provide state worker pay-raises, union officials Monday said they were satisfied with lawmakers’ decision to back away from a proposed pay cut.

The House accepted a Senate proposal that will require some 27,000 mid-level managers, lawmakers and other workers pay a modest amount for health coverage for the first time. Public employees across the state who are part of the state’s pension plan would also have to contribute a small portion of their paycheck to stave-off a looming multi-billion dollar deficit.

But the Senate dropped an earlier proposal to require state agencies to reduce payroll by 3 percent. Wholesale layoffs also won’t occur, lawmakers and union officials acknowledged Monday.

“The budget has already been balanced on the backs of state employees for four years now,” said Jeanette Wynn, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Florida chapter. “Any kind of cuts or take-backs for state employees is an insult.”

The state worker deal emerged Monday as Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, and his House counterpart, Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, worked toward concluding negotiations on a roughly $69 billion budget for 2010-11.

The agreed-on health coverage proposal would require legislators and state workers formerly considered in the “select exempt” category to contribute $100-a-year for single coverage and $360-annually for family insurance.

Working to offset a looming $15 billion shortfall in the state pension plan, the House and Senate also have agreed to have workers contribute one-quarter of 1 percent of their gross income into the pension fund, which fell into its first deficit in a dozen years after investments took a beating in the economic downturn.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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