Proposal Introduced for Public Employees to Pay for Health Care

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A plan impacting state workers including everyone from current and former lawmakers to prison guards could save the state millions of dollars. State Representative Lorence Wenke of Kalamazoo wants to require public employees-- both current and past to foot the bill, and pay 25 percent of their health care premiums.

"We're the leadership," said Rep. Wenke. " We should set the example. It would make a dramatic difference in balancing the budget in the state of Michigan."

Rep. Wenke says he believes his plan could save the state upwards of $400 million a year. But the State Employees Union believes that Rep. Wenke is going about it the wrong way.

"This would put a tremendous burden on people who often are forced now to live from paycheck to paycheck," said Treasurer Alan Kilar of the State Employees UAW.

Kilar believes lawmakers should reform health care instead of forcing public employees to pay more.

"I think if we want to attract quality employees to state service and to the state of Michigan, we don't do that by cutting benefits," said Kilar.

The State Employees UAW negotiates benefits with the Office of State Employees, which are then approved by the Civil Service Commissioner.

Rep. Wenke says his goal isn't to get legislation passed, but rather-- to gain the right attention.

"The governor is the person who takes the lead in negotiations with state employees. We need to set the example," said Rep. Wenke.

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