ORLANDO, Fla (WOFL FOX 35) - Changes to a state law that passed the Senate last week would boost pension benefits for surviving spouses of first responders. However, the House has included that bill into a larger bill, reforming the state pension system. It’s something the Senate has opposed in recent years.
An Orange County Sheriff Deputy widow is speaking out. Bridget Pine said it has been tough the past two years. "It's hard enough to grieve the loss of your husband and to watch your children have to grieve their father every single night and cry for their daddy,” said Mrs. Pine as she fights back tears. “It's even harder to have to fight for something that should've been in place already."
Her husband, Orange County Sheriff Deputy Scott Pine, was killed in the line of duty in 2014. Pine received a small pension payout and a one-time death benefit because her husband signed up for the retirement plan, not the pension plan. She would've received a monthly payout of his salary at the time of his death if her husband opted for the pension plan.
However lawmakers have been trying to change the state's pension system. “I feel like the House of Representatives is using my husband as a bargaining chip for political gain and that's not ok with me,” said Mrs. Pine.
Senate Bill 7012 would give surviving spouses of first responders' 100% of pay regardless if they were in the retirement or pension plan. But Republican House leaders have inserted changes to the bill that would slash the payout in half.
"I feel that my husband gave 100% of his life and that my children deserve 100% of his retirement,” the widow stated.
The Senate has opposed those changes and has consistently voted down the bill for the past several years. The legislative session is scheduled to end March 11 while the Pine family remains in limbo.
Mrs. Pine said she's contacted every member of the House of Representatives to change the bill to the original. An online petition has also been created and so far more than 2,000 people have signed it. If you would like to sign it here’s the link: www.supportscottpine.com