|As the State Legislature opens its session tomorrow and
Governor Scott presents his State of the State address, Florida business is in
a unique position to help pass significant reforms to move our job retention,
creation and expansion agenda forward.
Our statewide election results gave us the necessary ballast
to secure significant votes in not only the house and senate, but the
governor’s office, too. While we are
disappointed with Gov. Scott’s refusal to accept federal monies for high speed
rail, your Chamber realizes we have much to gain n other areas.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Six Pillars Plan is a
strong vision for where we need to end up by 2030. Within its framework, Six Pillars, if
executed effectively, will lead to: prosperity and high paying jobs, vibrant
and sustainable communities, and global competition and leadership.
The pillars are: talent supply and education, innovation and
economic development, infrastructure and growth leadership, business climate
and competitiveness, civic and governance systems, and quality of life and
This agenda goes after some sacred cows—public employee
pension reform being one. While many
reforms have been suggested over the years, the fact is that our current pension
system’s liabilities of $134.2 billion outpaced its assets of $118.77 billion,
according to the Department of Management Services, 2008-2009 Annual Report of
the Florida Retirement System. We simply
cannot afford this system anymore.
What we are calling for is: align state employee pension contributions
with other states and the private sector; require state employee contribution
into the pension fund; and consider other cost-saving charges, such as
switching new state employees from a defined benefit to a defined contribution
You will see demonstrations this week and throughout the
session. There will be a lot of rhetoric
and finger pointing. The lesson is that
the status quo is regressive and change is necessary to move us up on the states’
food chain, capitalizing on the work accomplished to this point.
Take a look at your Florida Chamber’s 2011 Business Agenda
by clicking here. You may not agree with
all of it, but the key is you take time to review information so you can be
informed when you meet with your State House or Senate member.