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.
Chippewa Valley Schools Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Scott Sederlund , the district would save approximately $2 million in expenses, dropping its projected 2012-13 budget deficit to just $1 million.
Macomb Township's Rep. Ken Goike voted in favor of Senate Bill 1040, which states that 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.
"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.
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."
Snyder applauded the bill's passage, calling it a "win for our children and their education, as well as a win for our school employees who need to know that benefits are secured and on solid footing for the future," in a prepared statement.
"Resolving this financial burden and bringing stability and protection for continued benefits to school employees now and in the future is among the most critical pieces of legislation I will sign this year," Snyder said, in a prepared statement. "I appreciate the legislature's hard work in putting retirement costs back on a sustainable path for both school employees and taxpayers. These reforms also ensure that schools can keep critical and much-needed resources in our classrooms."