Sorry to say...I am in a really foul mood. Yes...happy-go-lucky me is royally ticked off. Why? Something happened today during the House Session of Florida Legislature that was outrageous...IMHO...
We didn't look stupid enough after the national elections 9 years ago. If you need a reminder...simply think "hanging chads"... Now our politicians are at a whole new level of stupid. What happened? Heh... You're not going to believe this...
House Bill 5701 is written to bring the health insurance subsidy to an end for Florida State retirees by the end of the year. It's not much ~ $5 per year of service up to 30 years, paid monthly to "off set" some of the expense of our health insurance cost. While employed, the state picked up a major portion of our premium. Once retired, the retiree pays the whole premium with no state contribution. For my husband and I, our cost is nearly $1000 monthly. Next month our cost increases by another (almost) $50 per month. Then we will be paying more than $1000 a month. The health insurance subsidy (HIS) has a cap of $150 per month. I receive the whole $150, but my husband's HIS is only $87.50 because he became disabled at 17.5 years of service. The HIS is included in our monthly retirement payment. This means that our spendable dollars will be decreased by $287 per month soon. So...we had a vested interest in whether this bill would pass or not. My husband and I watched our televised house session today. Here's what happened:
HB 5701 came up for vote. It was defeated 59 to 57. It was a squeak, but enough to be a failed bill. My husband and I began to breathe again and thank God for His mercies. Immediately after the vote, the house representatives took a break that seemed to be only 15 to 20 minutes. When they resumed, there was a motion to put HB 5701 back on the table. The motion passed, then the debate (over in mere seconds it seemed), then they voted again. The bill passed on the "do-over" (Well....what would YOU call it?) by 63 Yay's and 56 Nay's. So...during their break, they managed to get 3 people to change their votes and rounded up 3 more who didn't vote the first time. The whole thing smacks of impropriety. Whether anything was improper or not is immaterial because the appearance of impropriety shouts louder than words...
My husband and I sat in our livingroom - stunned into silence! I am outraged!!! Immediately, a House Representative stood up and announced that he was embarrassed for the process he just witnessed. He said that what just happened tells the world that if they vote and don't like the results, all they have to do is a "do-over" to get the results they want. I am sickened at witnessing such a process.
If the bill had passed upon the first vote, I certainly would have been sad and upset, but I would have accepted it. But to "do-over" after the bill was defeated was just WRONG. So...I will not be quiet... Immediately and while angry (NO I'm not sorry), I sent the following letter to our Governor:
Dear Governor Christ,
I am outraged at what I witnessed today. Is that how we do business in Tallahassee? I am referring to the "do-over" that I saw happen with HB 5701 this afternoon.
Do you know how this looks to the citizens of this state? Well...the ones of us who were watching. I will do my best to get the news out far and wide...that if our representatives don't like the results of a vote, they can take a break, grease some palms and vote again.....what??? Like 20 minutes later??? It didn't happen that way? Well...appearances speak louder than words.
How does this affect me? My husband was injured at work for DMS and became disabled. His disability retirement isn't much. After the $24.94 health insurance increase (FOR RETIREES ONLY...I see the state has once again absorbed the cost so that employee rates are not increased...Is your insurance still free? Yours and all the SES, SMS and all the others with free insurance...) But, I digress... My husband's health insurance subsidy is $87.50 a month. Let's see what that is going to do to his already ridiculous retirement check... $266.05 less health insurance increase of $24.94 and loss of HIS of $87.50. That leaves a payment of $153.61 deposit to our checking account per month. Can you live on that? Well, neither can we. I am also retired state employee after 36 years of service to the State of Florida. My HIS is $150. ~ add the $24.94 increase in my individual health insurance premium and we can see that my retirement check is down $174.94 as well, for a total decrease in household income of $287.38. Can you afford a monthly decrease of $287.38 per month? Probably. But, what about that retiree who has already been retired for 10-15 years. Inflation has, no doubt, surpassed their income. The COL increase does NOT keep up with inflation for neither state employee nor retiree. But, at least a young adult can withstand the physical demands of picking up additional hours or a second job....as many of us did in our youth...if needed. Have you noticed the increase of white-haired workers in ground level jobs...like bagging groceries in Publix or Wal-Mart greeter? Do you think that was their retirement dream? Or do all you insensitive politicians not care what happens to our elderly?
Well...after 36 years in state employment in administrative positions, I understand how things work, so I know it is unlikely that YOU, Charlie Crist, are reading this email. No doubt some OPS office aide will send me one of the canned responses. Or, maybe your office will kick it down to DMS to "handle". Whatever....I want my voice to be heard, so I will be sharing this email with everyone I can think of... Just so that other people can see how much government REALLY CARES.
I gave 36 of the best years of my life to the State of Florida. Is this the thanks I get? My husband and I paid $11,573. for our health insurance in 2009. The annual cost for family coverage for a current employee is $2160. The state pays $12,049.68 annually per state employee who carries family insurance. Yet, you will remove a small health care subsidy with a maximum ANNUAL cost of $1800. per retiree and less for many who retired with less than 30 years of service. My husband's HIS is $1050. per year. Not much to you, but is a lot for a retiree on fixed income. How is that a fair way to treat a retiree? Well...I'd just like to remind you that you will be a retiree some day and I wish you long, healthy life...so that you can see just how quickly the economy catches up and surpasses your retirement income. Also, I want you to live long enough to see how much appreciation the State of Florida will show you for also giving the best years of your life.
One thing I need to get off my chest... Republicans always want to spout that they are Christians, yet your party violates a basic Christian responsibility to care for the less fortunate and the elderly. They want the churches to do it. So, if your party doesn't want to ACT like a Christian should, then DON'T TELL ME YOU ARE CHRISTIAN. (This is directed at your party…not you personally) If they want separation of church and state, then don't even mention your religious affiliations and keep the Republican Christian Coalition out of the churches. I saw through them years ago and so do a lot of other people. We the People Aren't Stupid. Just sayin...
And another thing.... I am fed up and disgusted with the political division that I see. If you ask me, which you didn't, but I'll say so anyway....the Republicans are more interested in the unity of your party than the citizens of this great land. Assuming a proclaimed Christian has actually read his Bible, I would remind you that a house divided will fall. You all don't work together.... You work for your political parties... The Bible contains much more regarding the support of our leaders. I don't see it happening. And it is evident that your party is NOT working for the overall good of the citizens of this state or our nation. The Republican stonewall is not invisible... The lack of cooperation with the current administration is damaging our whole nation. Can your party not see that?
I'm pretty sure I just wasted a lot of time writing to you and I'm going to waste more as this email grows legs and find its way to many places. I'm pretty sure someone somewhere might be interested in seeing the political shenanigans in the State of Florida ... As if we weren't already embarrassed enough 9 years ago with the election fiasco. Let us just keep on being stupid for all to see...
So.... Have a nice day!
Retired State Employee
This is completely out of character for me to post a political blog. I hope I never get so angry that I EVER do it again!