Today’s Senate Approval Advances Bill
In a 35 – 1 vote, the pension reform bill proposed by Mayor Lenny Curry was approved by the Senate today. The Curry plan supports the City of Jacksonville’s efforts to solving pension debt that has long stifled the City. It gives municipal governments the ability to repurpose existing surtax revenue to address pension liability under circumstances that demonstrate a serious potential for financial difficulty. The bill limits participation to those local governments whose underfunded retirement benefit is below 80 percent of actuarial funding.
“Today marks an incredible milestone for our City, and the opportunities it presents for Jacksonville citizens,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “I could not be more excited about the progress of our pension legislation, to date. Its success speaks volumes about the fine leadership of our legislators – particularly our sponsors Senators Rob Bradley and Aaron Bean and their House partners, Representatives Travis Cummings and Lake Ray, and the Duval and First Coast delegations. They have been tireless in their efforts these past several months in examining the threat pension liabilities pose to our city’s financial future. I look forward to the Governor’s review and next steps, which will enable us to increase investments in key priorities that will improve the quality of life for Jacksonville residents and communities.”
Jacksonville owns 25 percent of the total unfunded pension liability of more than 400 cities and counties throughout the state, paying more than $260 million for its three public pension funds. The city contribution to the three pension funds is about 20 percent of the city’s operating budget. The Police & Fire Pension Fund is currently at a 46 percent funded level with an unfunded liability of over $1.6 billion; The General Employees Pension Fund is at a 60 percent funded level with an unfunded liability of approximately $910 million; and the Corrections Officers’ Pension Fund is at a 48 percent funded level with an unfunded liability of over $120 million. The total of the unfunded liabilities of the three public pension funds is more than $2.6 billion.
The bill was approved by the Florida House of Representatives Feb. 24 and will progress to Governor Rick Scott for review.