Today in an unexpected decision, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the 3-percent FRS tax levied on Florida public employees.Â The decision leaves half a million public employees holding the bag.
Public employee leaders expressed shock and anger at the Florida Supreme Court ruling especially since the circuit court had ruled that the Florida Legislature overstepped its authority by ignoring the Florida Constitution in taking 3 percent from the paychecks of Floridaâ€™s teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, nurses and other public employees.
Legislative leaders and Gov. Rick Scott called the tax a â€œcontributionâ€ to the Florida Retirement System, but the money was used to balance the state budget this year and last year.
â€œThis is disappointing news for those who work to make Florida a better place,â€ Ford said. â€œBalancing the state budget on the backs of middle-class working families is the wrong approach for legislative leaders and the governor to take. Weâ€™re disappointed that the stateâ€™s highest court said this approach was legal.
â€œI believe our arguments were correct, even if the justices didnâ€™t agree. We still believe that a promise is a promise,â€ Ford said. â€œ
USEP President Lynne Webb stated that since the Florida Supreme Court was the final appeal, â€œwe must be more determined and mobilized than ever to change the Florida Legislature and the leadership of our state. We must look to the elections in 2014 to turn this decision around. Now more than ever, we must stand united and turn our anger into action!â€
Despite the loss, a great deal of gratitude goes to FEA and the other public-sector unions that took on this lengthy, complex and expensive legal challenge.