by Brian Washington
Education Votes has new information about our story last week regarding billionaires Charles and David Koch, also known as the Koch brothers, and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford teaming up to undermine the retirement security of educators in the state.
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Weatherford wants to close the state’s $135 billion pension system, one of the healthiest in the nation, to new education hires and force them to choose a plan that will provide lower benefits—either a 401K-style investment plan, which are more costly to taxpayers, or a “cash balance” plan, which has some features of a 401K but provides a minimum benefit.
However, a Republican state senator, who’s vote Weatherford needs to win approval for his anti-pension package, has made it clear the proposal is not likely to pass.
“If it (anti-pension bill) passes, it’ll be snowing in Miami,” said State Sen. Greg Evers during a news conference last week.
The Koch brother’s involvement with Weatherford’s anti-pension bill doesn’t help his cause with Evers. Evers was one of several lawmakers who became the target of an attack campaign financed by the Koch brothers after he voted against a similar anti-pension proposal last year.
Author and journalist David Sirota believes that billionaires like the Koch brothers have a vested financial interest in cutting pension benefits for middle-class workers, educators, police officers, fire fighters, and other public workers who serve their communities.
Education Votes recently talked with at least one retired educator who agrees with Sirota—that there’s a financial motive involved. Retired educator Phyllis Compton suspects that the Koch brothers using their wealth to influence the state’s pension system can only mean one thing—that there’s a monetary benefit.
“Switching folks to 401K plans really makes no sense,” asserts Compton, “other than that there is some profit to be made, and it isn’t going to be a profit that retirees will benefit from.”
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