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House, Senate take differing pension paths

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, backs legislation that would require new employees to join the defined contribution retirement plan. File photo by Bill Cotterell.

The House and Senate are taking widely divergent tracks in revamping the Florida Retirement System.

The both want to head off unfunded liabilities -- now estimated at $19 billion -- and make the pension plan for 623,011 state, county and local employees more like retirement options available to workers in the private sector. The House is more aggressive, though, closing the traditional "defined benefit" plan to newly hired employees after next New Year's Day, while the Senate wants to require only top managers to sign up for the 401(k)-style "defined contribution" investment plan.

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