The Florida Education Association (FEA) union leadership called their lawsuit an “income tax levied” on workers who contribute to the Florida Retirement System over the 3 percent pay reduction on teachers, school employees, and other public workers that was passed into law. They filed the lawsuit in Tallahassee Circuit Court and called the law unconstitutional.
The lawsuit was filed against Gov. Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Secretary of the Department of Management Services John Miles. These officials are also the members of the State Board of Administration that oversees the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund.
The class-action lawsuit plaintiffs consists of 11 plaintiffs: teachers, school maintenance workers, sheriff’s deputies, a county solid waste worker, a community college instructor, and public hospital employees. Jonathan Tuttle of the Collier County Education Association contends that the state made a promise “to people who entered into a contract” and it should be kept.
The issue of the lawsuit is that the state “shifted money from worker pay to replace some of the state’s obligation to pay into the Florida Retirement System,” which Florida employees do not have to contribute according to state law. (That would be correct since there never was a state law to contribute. But now there is.) It’s conclusion is that the shift impeded contractual rights.
The Florida Retirement System should be in line with the private sector that requires employees to contribute to their retirement system. The law now requires that employee contribution is part of the retirement plan. The teacher union leadership uses rhetoric of “income tax” to make a claim on income that they don’t own and “levy” to make a claim on a recovery that has not been judged.