During her keynote speech at MEA’s Summer Conference last week, MEA President Paula Herbart blasted the so-called “pensions for potholes” scheme and urged public school employees across the state to raise their voices to oppose the risky shell game.
By many accounts, including by some conservative economists like Patrick Anderson, the reckless road funding scheme is irresponsible. Raiding pension funds for road fixes could undermine the retirement of hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents, drive the state deeper into debt, and saddle taxpayers with massive future costs.
Republican legislative leaders are considering various plans to bond, restructure, or reamortize the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) to pay for roads. The Legislature left for summer recess in June without passing a budget.
Whitmer has proposed a spending plan that would add $500 million in increased education spending along with a weighted funding formula that ensures extra resources go to schools that need it most.
Herbart told summer conference goers that lawmakers need to make school funding a priority and stop playing shell games with our students’ future.
“Let me be crystal clear. MEA will oppose any efforts to bond, borrow, delay payments, re-amortize or otherwise underfund our pension system to pay for road repairs. All these amount to the same thing – schemes that put the health of our pension system at risk for current and future school retirees.”