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Legislation Cuts Teacher Benefits

Newly hired Michigan public school employees would pay more for their pensions and lose state-funded health care in retirement under a bill headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for approval.

Newly hired public school employees in Michigan would pay more for their pensions and lose state-funded health care in retirement under a bill headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for approval.

Sponsors of the bill, which was approved Wednesday in the Republican-controlled House and Senate, said it will save school districts an estimated $300 million annually and trim $15 billion in legacy debt, according to The Detroit News.

"We are saving the (Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System) for current and future retirees," Rep. Jeff Farrington, R-Utica, told the Detroit Free Press .

Employees hired after Aug. 1 would pay $2,000 into a health care account, plus a matching contribution of up to 2 percent of their pay toward a 401(k)-type account, according to the Free Press.

"This is a big step for financial accountability," Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said in an Associated Press report on mlive.com.

But, Democrats saw the bill differently.

"Attacking teachers this way is just another assault on our students who are already suffering mightily from the budget cuts imposed by the governor and the Republicans in the last two budgets," state Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, D-Huntington Woods, responded Thursday in a press release.

"Michigan will not be a leader in anything if we don't treat women, families and students well," she said. "This latest attack on teachers and schools will come back to haunt us in the future when we fail to graduate students who are ready for higher education and the workforce, and when we fail to provide a good quality of life for retirees."

Natalie True August 17, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Could someone explain how paying into healthcare and a retirement fund like the majority of working Americans threatens students?
JH August 17, 2012 at 01:42 PM
No, nobody can and nobody will try to. They will just call you names and insult your intelligence for not understanding something that is clearly nonsense. This bill, if passed, pleases me greatly. Government benefits need to be more in line with the private sector, as those in the private sector ultimately fund the government. I do think the 2% matching for the 401k is a bit stingy though.
Peter Dungjen August 17, 2012 at 07:18 PM
JH, when "public sector" pay and compensations match the "private sector", then things will be more in line as you would like to see. History will show you that public sector employees have aways lagged behind the private in pay, benefits and retirement. That is the trade off we (public sector people) accept for doing the jobs that most of you in the private sector will never think of doing, until your own world becomes threatened with cut backs, lay off's and work force reductions. We are an easy target to go after-but you will still need us every day of the week.
Greta Gubbins August 17, 2012 at 09:46 PM
As long as we are talking about making sure the benefits of government employees are more in line with the private sector, then lets talk pay and bonuses. An average private sector professional with a master's degree earns about $85,000 to $105,000 before profit sharing and bonuses. http://education-portal.com/articles/Salary_for_an_MBA_in_Management_Average_Earnings_of_Recent_Grads.html The average educator with a master's degree and 20 years experience makes $65,000--$69,000. http://www.ehow.com/info_7949963_salary-high-school-chemistry-teacher.html There is a clear discrepancy. However, many eductators feel teaching is a calling and understand the pay will be what it is, but the benefit package made up for the pay. Taking away the benefit package will take away the small incentive for the most highly qualified applicants. As it is, 50% of new teachers leave the profession in the first five years. When I look for a quality product, I consider the cost and the value for my money. I don't know about you, but when it comes to the education of my children, I don't want a cut-rate teacher vs. a quality teacher.

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