Issues and legislation

Information on the current legislation and legislative news.

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Retirement Issues and Legislation

Education Reform 

Legislative Updates (PDF)


 

Legislators still tinkering with school policies

Even though SB 1040 couldn’t get anywhere in yesterday’s one-day legislative session, some other bills affecting school districts and school employees did.

Senate can’t get its act together on retirement reform

 

Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) and Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Grand Rapids) tried all day to convince fellow legislators that their plan to shut down the current hybrid system and put all new hires into a defined contribution plan was the logical path to reforming the retirement system.

The new plan also called for a return to retirees paying 20 percent of their premiums instead of the 10 percent the House proposed. And there was no help for paying off the system’s stranded costs caused in part by the privatization of jobs.

Their plan couldn’t get traction with legislators, but then neither did the House’s version (H-3) of SB 1040 which was defeated on a 16-22 vote. The issue now goes to a six-member conference committee appointed by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and House Speaker Jase Bolger.

Every Democrat voted against the bill and was joined by Republican Senators Brandenburg, Colbeck, Hune, Jansen, Jones, Meekhof, Nofs, Pappageorge, Pavlov, and Proos.

SB 1040 rears its ugly head again

When the Legislature returns for one day on July 18, it's expected the Senate will take up the unfinished business of SB 1040. While the House passed its version of the bill, the Senate adjourned on June 14 before taking any action.

The Senate will take up the House version which includes the prefunding of the retirement system, giving new hires the option of a defined contribution plan, and a freezing of the retirement rate for school districts. All along, there have been Senators interested in forcing all new hires into a defined contribution plan, but at issue is the cost of such a move. The House version calls for a study analyzing the cost benefit.

Little help for schools in new budget

Gov. Snyder signed into law the 2012-13 $48 billion budget this week. The new budget year begins Oct. 1. 

SB 1040--it's not over yet

The House passed their version of SB 1040 on June 14—the last day of session—and it was expected that the Senate would do the same. But they didn’t. They adjourned without having taken any action because they didn’t have the votes to pass it. Some Senators still oppose the House’s move to keep new hires in a hybrid pension plan. They would prefer new hires be stripped of any pension and be put into a defined contribution 401(k) plan. 

Until July 18, legislators are back in their home district talking to constituents and campaigning to save their seats. It’s a good time to make face-to-face contacts with your legislators and let them know how financially destructive SB 1040 is to current school employees, retirees and future education employees. Tell them using school employees to fix a systemic problem with the retirement system—one they didn’t create—is not fair.

SB 1040 still in limbo; contact legislators today

With reports that sides are very close to a deal, the fate of SB 1040 is still in question with only two days left for legislators to deal with the issue. The House needs to act on the bill before the Senate can finalize it.

What to do with new hires remains a point of contention in the bill. The House Republicans want to give new employees the option of the current hybrid pension plan or a plain 401(k), while the Senate Republicans want to require that they move into a 401k only plan. Both sides agree that they want to end retiree health care for new hires.

Another major difference is the House version of the bill includes provisions to pre-fund health costs and start bringing down the $45 billion unfunded liability in the system.

With only two days left before the summer legislative break, time is running out. It’s critical that you contact your Senator and Representative today and let them know the impact this bill will have on current and retired school employees and those new to the profession.

House committee debates a variety of education issues

In the midst of budget discussions last week, the House Education Committee heard testimony on legislation that revises graduation requirements spelled out in the Michigan Merit Curriculum and does away with school accreditation. 

SB 1040 Talking Points

  • The latest assault on public school employees, SB 1040, comes under the guise of fixing the problems with the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS).
  • In reality, SB 1040 makes dramatic cuts to employee pension benefits while drastically increasing the out-of-pocket costs for both active and retired members.

Senate committee considers ending full-time release practice

HB 4059 hasn’t seen much action since it was first introduced by Rep. Knollenberg (R-Troy) in January 2011 and passed by the House in April, but the bill to prohibit public employers from paying for full-time release union officials will again see the light of day at tomorrow’s Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee meeting.

Schools still losers in PPT elimination

A major sticking point in SB 1072—eliminating the Personal Property Tax (PPT)—has been no plan for replacing the lost revenue for local governments and school districts. Last week the Senate approved Republican amendments that would remedy the situation—at least in part. 

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