A Michigan school employee retirement plan passed the legislature on Friday, May 15, 2010, and Governor Granholm plans on signing it. The bill passed the Senate by a 21-14 vote, and the House 56-45. While the goal is to encourage eligible retired teachers to begin their retirement and save the state money, many people are outraged about the bill’s passing.
Michigan’s current retirement system will change as a result of this early retirement plan. The approved bill modifies the Michigan retirement multiplier from 1.5 percent to 1.6 for teachers who currently qualify, and offers a 1.55 multiplier to teachers whose age and years add up to at least 80.
Various reports indicate that Michigan’s government could save anywhere from $670 million to $3 billion. However, this bill also incorporates an additional contribution from current and future public school employees of 3 percent of their salary into retiree health plans and retirement funds.
Opponents to this bill have touted strong arguments. They contend that the bill basically taxes only some of Michigan residents. They often state that charter school employees should also be required to contribute since their schools are publicly funded.
Others who comment about this bill often mix up the facts. Teachers would not simply contribute three percent of their salary. It would be an additional three percent over their current contribution, while many teachers must also pay for continuing education, health benefits, union dues, and many other required costs.
Other people leave comments that break off on a tangent. Some believe that solving the state’s problems would require closing half the school districts to save administrative costs. Yet, many of Michigan’s classrooms are already overcrowded.
Even more people comment about lowering teachers’ health care benefits as a solution to the state’s woes. This would cause teachers to pay even more for receiving less. To what end would that be a solution?
Another hotly debated perspective comes from comments about teachers being lazy and receiving 15 weeks of summer vacation and that as a result teachers should not receive a pension. Points are made about the quantity of continuing education classes teachers often complete during that time and the enormous amount of overtime hours teachers work without overtime pay.
The debate is likely to continue for some time on this retirement overhaul, even though the Michigan legislature has approved the bill. It will certainly affect many people directly and indirectly whether they are teachers, students, or community members.
What do you think about these retirement proposal ideas for Michigan‘s teachers? Please comment below.