Educators Divided on Dillon's Health Care Reform

By: Tiffany Teasley Email
By: Tiffany Teasley Email

It would limit layoffs and keep cuts from the classroom, that's the message Michigan administrators were pushing Tuesday in support of House Speaker Andy Dillon's plan to consolidate health care for public employees.

"I would argue this will save thousands of teacher jobs, we're looking at a a per pupil cut that is very deep, this fiscal crisis is worse than it was two years ago," said Rep. Andy Dillon (D) Speaker of The House.

Out of the nearly $900 million that Dillon says the plan would save, administrators estimate nearly $500 million would be saved for education across the state.

"We have districts that could potentially be bankrupt and this a way of freeing up dollars that could go directly into the classroom," said Williams Mayes of the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

And superintendents agree, they say the plan would save their individual districts thousands of dollars per student.

"It could be anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 per student, so if you look at that then you're looking at close to half a million dollars possibly for my district alone," said Tom Landon, Superintendent of Big Rapids Public Schools.

"More sacrifice has to be done," Mayes said.

While administrators promise educators would still have quality benefits, teachers unions view the plan as just another concession that would reduce the quality health care that teachers have had for years.

"What would have to be done to save the kind of money he's talking about is slashing benefits almost in half for some public employees, the budget simply can't be balanced on their backs," said Doug Pratt of the Michigan Education Association.

Pratt says public school employees have already saved the state nearly $700 thousand over the last three years.

"By paying more out of pocket for co-pays and premiums and by simply accepting less expensive health plans," Pratt said.


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