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Pension Bills Rush Through House, Senate

Jun 16, 2017

Despite pressure from many MEA members who traveled to the Capitol on short notice, the Michigan House and Senate today narrowly passed legislation that would weaken retirement security for newly hired school employees and increase future costs to taxpayers.

Identical measures passed the Senate, 21-17, and House, 55-52, with some Republicans joining Democrats in voting against.

The complicated legislation would increase financial risk for new hires without doing anything to improve the funding and stability of the current hybrid system or paying down the unfunded liability of the traditional pension plan, MEA President Steven Cook said in a statement after the bill’s passage

“The rushed passage of this legislation today – over the objections of educators from across the state who came to Lansing at the beginning of their summer break – is a travesty that will not bode well for future school employees, the students they serve, or the fiscal health of the state,” Cook said.

MEA will be providing a detailed analysis of the legislation in coming days.  Please stayed tuned to Capitol Comments for more information.
In the meantime, it’s important to note that the thousands of calls, emails, letters and personal conversations our members engaged in with lawmakers did make a difference.  While MEA did not support this latest legislation, we recognize that it is a vast improvement over the initial bills, which would have immediately closed the hybrid system, not offered new hires a choice in retirement plans, and cost the state billions in transition costs.

Shrouded in secrecy until the last moment Tuesday evening, the bills were rushed through committees early Wednesday morning with little notice or opportunity to read them. By Thursday morning, about 75 educators descended on Capitol lobbies to make their voices heard.

Provisions in the bill that place new restrictions on the ability of educators to invest in their retirement, including banning the ability for school employees to purchase service credit when they take parental leave, does nothing to make the profession more attractive, educators said.