It’s budget season in Lansing, and there are some important issues that need to be settled about school funding. But, as any good magician knows, the key to a good trick is to keep your audience’s attention focused someplace else. For that flashy bit of distraction, we have the wrong-headed effort to end the school pension system at a cost of more than a billion dollars a year for the next four decades. Right now, legislative leaders are not only insisting on closing the state public school retirement system (MPSERS) to new hires, but have cut off budget negotiations with Gov. Snyder because of his continued opposition to the retirement changes.
I’d like to thank everyone who responded to our earlier action alert on the school pension (MPSERS) closing bills. But whether you did or did not, please read on.
Whatever you may be hearing in the news, the issue here is NOT really about defending teacher pensions. Don’t get me wrong: we strongly believe in good pay and decent benefits for the folks we ask to educate and care for our children five days a week. You can’t hire, or keep, great people if you don’t offer fair compensation.
The REAL issue here is that these bills would hang a $46 BILLION millstone around the necks of our public schools for the next four decades.(1) And if recent budget moves are any indication, that cost will be borne solely by the students and staff of our “traditional” local public schools.
After all that we have seen, can anyone seriously believe that the real issue driving all this is pension costs?
This issue came out of nowhere last December, and was suddenly the top priority of our state lawmakers for no apparent reason.
Legislative leaders have cut Gov. Snyder out of budget negotiations, a stunning step, because he opposes the MPSERS closing bills and are forging ahead on their own.
These bills will do NOTHING to reduce the existing (old) pension system debt.
Just five years ago, lawmakers created a new hybrid system after rejecting the idea of closing MPSERS entirely. Many of those folks are still serving in the legislature!
The current hybrid retirement system is fully funded and in good shape.
The $400+ million the legislature set aside to cover “up front” costs by reducing the the state and school aid budgets will only cover the first year of the added cost of these bills.
Who will pay for years 2 through 40?
Yeah, you guessed it. Our children pay for it as the added costs of these bills eat up any increases in funds available for school aid over the next 40 years. By that time, current kindergartners will be approaching middle age!
Please don’t fall for the spin. This isn’t about the pros or cons of teacher retirement plans. This is about the very survival of our community-governed public schools.
Please contact your state lawmakers today and let them know that you’ve seen though this absurd plan. Insist that they abandon this irresponsible and harmful proposal and get to work creating a budget that strengthens our schools!
Michigan Parents for Schools
(note 1) This isn’t a typo, and sadly it’s not “fake news” either. The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency’s analysis of HB 4647, and the Senate Fiscal Agency’s write-up of the identical SB 401, both come up with the same number: $46.43 BILLION in ADDED costs over the next 40 years.