Florida Politicians and State Employees Rip Us Off

I have just read something that leaves me speechless. Okay, that’s not true because I’m about to launch into what will likely be a very wordy and spirited ripping, but it did leave me speechless for a moment. If you haven’t heard, thousands of Florida politicians are making use of loop holes to essentially “double-dip” and simultaneously pull a salary AND retirement check. Yeah, that’s right, BOTH. How do they do this? Well, apparently after getting re-elected they can turn in their resignation and start their retirement benefits. Because they are retiring from their current unfinished term, it does not affect their eligibility for the upcoming term for which they were just elected. I guess in the system it’s considered like two separate jobs. I still don’t see how that even works, it doesn’t work like that in the private sector.

The bottom line is the state currently is dishing out $300 million dollars in retirement benefits to people who are still employed by the state and pulling a paycheck. This includes 211 elected officials (they thank you for your votes), 203 senior managers and more than 7,763 state employees. 300 million dollars. That’s 300… Million… Dollars.

Here we are discussing cutting back jobs for teachers, nixing after school sports and field trips, paying for 911 service calls, and who knows what next. Families are losing their jobs, going into foreclosure, facing dire economic times. And these people are robbing the state coffers of $300 millions dollars annually? This is probably the most outrageous thing I have heard in a long long time. This makes the Illinois Governor trying to turn a buck on an empty Senate seat look like a minor infraction.

Every paper should publish the list of these names and we should be picketing these people’s houses. According to the article, it is legal. This does not mean we have to stand by and be silent about the blatant unethical nature of it all. This loop hole should be closed and those who took advantage of it should be outed.

4 Comments so far

  1. funkeemunkee on December 18th, 2008 @ 4:23 pm

    That is actually common among all state agencies and at first it sounds like a bum deal but it isn’t.

    Follow this:

    John Doe has worked his twenty five years and enters the DROP program for five. He now is contractually forced to retire. It is part of the DROP. DROP is beneficial to him and the state retirement system as it allows both to collect bigger gains on the money rather than the traditional system.

    But John is only 55/60. He doesn’t want to sit at home. Matter of fact the retirement payment each month is likely 40 to 55% of his previous income (as it is for the majority of those in the FRS). He has to work.

    Now the position he left still needs to be filled. And likely by someone that knows how to do it.

    This is where the "double dip" comes in. John comes back to work, why get someone new and train or get the guy that did well enough in the first place. But wait, someone is getting ripped off, right.

    No. The paycheck was going to go to somebody regardless. When someone retires you don’t eliminate the position. Also, John is going to work some where and pull a second paycheck. He is going to pull from two systems, payroll and retirement, regardless. So the agency hires him back. They get someone qualified and he gets to make sure his salary covers his bills.

    There is actually a bonus. Because of the DROP, his retirement is less of a strain on the system. I don’t understand the financials but the alternative investing done with his money in those five years make the Florida Retirement System work better and bigger. PLUS, his "new" position still pays into the system like it would for anyone holding that position. John is actually paying in and drawing from it at the same time.

    It only looks like double dipping since they go right back into the same position after a 30 day break. But if these people got hired in another position that was part of the FRS they would be "double dipping" but it wouldn’t be obvious.

    If you earn your retirement take it, and if your earn your paycheck take it. If you were to argue that when you retire you must not do that job again nor work for another position that is a part of the FRS that is a different story. You would have to take the stance that once you retire you can’t work period. Also, the DROP program that enables this was designed and is succeeding in making the FRS one of the more solvent and balanced in the country. Without it people would just stay put and collect the check for the same period anyway with out any upside for the system.

    I used to hold the same views but an HR person spelled it out and made the case that it actually is not a bad thing. I work for Seminole County Public Schools and see many teachers double dip. They are also some of the first on the blocks for the budget cuts because double dippers get less assurance of position and they start off from the beginning of seniority in many instances. There is a negative to doing it as well.

  2. Terry Howard (orl_terry) on December 18th, 2008 @ 4:45 pm

    I get that now, that does explain the state workers and maybe the managers. But the elected officials who submit their resignation before going right back to work? You can’t tell me that isn’t crooked as all get out.

    I can understand if they force you to retire (which is another form of retardation if they force you out of a position they need to still fill and they fill it with… you), but how can you pull retirement if you elect to leave your position. Here on planet Earth we call that quitting. The last time I changed jobs I submitted a letter of resignation, and no one starting cutting me retirement checks.

  3. funkeemunkee on December 18th, 2008 @ 5:59 pm

    You are right about the elected officials. That just doesn’t jive. You get a elected for a set term, you retire, get re-elected.

    I need to find out more about the forced retirement thing for employees. Do they get to do the same double dip if they don’t do the DROP, which forces retirement? That I don’t know and that might change things a bit. If you participate in a program that makes things better I could see that as a benefit or a carrot to hold out for increased participation but if you are just gaming that might come under justified scrutiny.

  4. Florida Politicians and State Employees Rip Us Off | West Orlando News | Orlando News & Information, Caribbean, African and World News, Multimedia (pingback) on December 25th, 2008 @ 9:35 pm

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