It’s not often you see the Senate Democrats arguing for one of Governor Snyder’s proposals on the floor of the Senate, but that’s exactly what happened today as the Senate debated legislation impacting the retirement plans of our public school teachers.
Senate Bill 1040 makes changes to the way Michigan’s retirement system works for public school teachers due to a long-term funding problem that could see the system essentially run out of money. Of course, this funding problem wasn’t actually caused by teachers (it just maybe has something to do with legislators diverting money out of it to plug holes in their budgets over the past 15+ years), but that isn’t stopping Republicans from blaming teachers for it as they make drastic cuts to the retirement plans our teachers have earned over a lifetime of hard work in the classrooms.
Nothing says “thanks for nothing” quite like telling our teachers you’re taking away their retirement check on their way out the door.
While Governor Snyder put forward a similar plan to what was passed today, his plan continued forward with a prefunded retirement system that ensures a certain amount of savings for the system. The legislation passed today, on the other hand, forces all new employees to switch to a “defined contribution” system, a plan that not only forces teachers to pay more to get less for their retirement, but actually will cost the state over $1.4 BILLION to implement while realizing only $300 million in savings.
Let’s do some quick math. $1.4 billion in costs – $300 million in savings = a total savings of negative $1.1 billion.
Yes, the Republicans actually passed a “savings” bill today that will cost the state over a billion dollars. And teachers will still suffer for it. Does this make any sense to you?
This plan didn’t make sense for us either, so our members took to the microphone to encourage Republicans to take another look at the original proposal from Governor Snyder and introduced an amendment that would rewrite the bill to use the Governor’s exact language. It wasn’t an effort to show we supported the Governor’s proposal, it was simply an effort to turn a terrible bill into … well … a less terrible bill.
Amazingly enough, Republicans shot down the idea. They wouldn’t go along with proposal their own Governor asked them to pass. Perhaps they thought it wasn’t punitive enough on teachers? Perhaps they just don’t want to listen to ANYBODY, even if it’s in their own party? Or perhaps they are trying to prove they’re better at attacking teachers than Governor Snyder is?
Regardless of the reason, the Republicans once again turned their back on bipartisanship today, even when we argued to use THEIR party’s plan. Apparently it’s just easier in the end for Senate Republicans to tune the entire world out, even their own Governor, than it is to work cooperatively to find solutions to the many problems that face our state. Unfortunately, as they do so, our hardworking teachers continue to pay the price for those mistakes.
Take a look at the statement made by Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer as she argues against this legislation today: