MI School Retirement System Reform Passes State Legislature

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email

Supporters of the reforms say the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) is on an unsustainable path.

"Times have changed and unfortunately this whole dynamic has become totally unattainable when you build a $50 billion debt and you're not paying it down at all," said Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton.

Under S.B. 1040, current school employees would contribute up to 7% of their salaries to their pensions. Current employees and retirees younger than 65 would also have to pay 20% of their healthcare premiums, up from 10%. New hires won't get retirement healthcare. Instead, they'll get $2,000 deposited into a health reimbursement account and a maximum 2% matching contribution into a 401(k).

Rep. Bill Rogers says school districts are spending too much on pension and health care.

"How does that correlate? It's less money schools can spend on classrooms, on students, on books," said Rep. Rogers.

Supporters say it's the right thing to do but opponents couldn't agree less.

"The increased costs these retirees will incur for their health insurance will force many to abandon health care in order to put food on their table," said Chuck Agerstrand, lobbyist for the Michigan Education Association.

House Democrats also called the bill an attack on teachers, which would ultimately affect the students.

Donald Wotruba from the Michigan Association of School Boards says the bill is not perfect, but he is in support of the reforms.

"It's the perfect versus the workable and making sure we still can attract quality candidates for teachers to work with our kids and I still think our system does that," Wotruba said.

However, teachers' unions argue the reforms could make it difficult for Michigan to attract the best employees to public schools.

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  • by Anonymous on Aug 17, 2012 at 11:24 AM
    But these same legislaters gave themselves hefty, retirement beni's. Health ins included. How nice for them. To hell with the rest of us.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 17, 2012 at 11:13 AM
    Oh, thrust me, you are not paying my insurance and pension. I am without your help.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 17, 2012 at 10:20 AM
    There is plenty of money for education, just not enough for benefits! If you want benefits you will have to pay for it. That's how education plays the public. At one time the per student pay out from the state covered everything. Now drivers ed, sports, transportation, use of public facilities are all extra cost. If you want extra, pay extra!?!?!?
  • by Anonymous on Aug 17, 2012 at 06:07 AM
    Another light at the end of the tunnel so we do not collapse like the nations of greece or implode like the soviet union.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 18, 2012 at 10:03 AM in reply to
      Yep that light was put out in the 90's by Engler. If he had kept his fingers off the money then we wouldn't have this problem now! It was prefunded then and he took the money and also cut the prefunding to balance his budget!
  • by GT Location: Mid Michigan on Aug 16, 2012 at 01:56 PM
    I can understand why teachers are upset with this but so are all of us. I currently work as a police officer and work two jobs 65 hours a week to make just over what the minimum salary for a teacher is in this state and guess what I have to work all year. Not just 6 months of it. In addition I like many other people that I work with in the public sector were forced to contribute 20 percent to our health care coverage and 7 percent towards our retirement as well and not even get a raise for 4 years. Sure I would rather have that money in my bank account but with the way the economy is I learn to adjust and be thankful that I have a job where I can support my family. So quit your crying and suck it up like the rest of us.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 16, 2012 at 08:53 PM in reply to GT
      WAIT A MINUTE! What police job are you working that it takes 2 jobs to make what a teacher makes? Starting teacher makes 35,000. And so you know they pay 10% towards retirement now they want us to pay more. And this 20% is not for current insurance it's for retirement insurance. Know what you are talking about!
      • reply
        by Courtney on Aug 17, 2012 at 07:48 AM in reply to
        State troopers start at $10.00 an hour, check out Michigan.gov if you doubt. Police are not paid as well as everyone thinks they are. Some states are trying to push for officers being paid minimum wage! I understand you complaints but again, we are all paying more with less to pay for it. You think we, or our kids are ever going to see social security or low cost insurance? We are all paying for decisions made years ago, probably for some that weren't even born yet, and we are multiplying the problem for the kids that are being taught today. You think they will see anything? Whine away of how unfair it is, it is unfair to all of us and every aspect for our future. As GT stated, suck it up and quit crying. Teachers are NOT the only profession being "short changed."
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Aug 17, 2012 at 08:06 PM in reply to Courtney
          My brother-in-law and I began our careers at the same time, he is a state trooper and I am a teacher.....we are entering our seventh years and he has made 55,000 for the past 5 years. I finally made it to 40k last year...he gets overtime for working beyond his contracted hours, I do not; instead I am constantly being accused of working 6months and whining. Teachers are not "whiners" but hearing this inaccurate account of our profession is offensive and tiring....I had to attend a university for 4 years and have to continue taking college courses in order to retain my certifivacation, which means extra time and expenses...during my summer this is what I do because I have to as a part of my job, so please stop the inaccuracies because saying a teacher works 6 months would be the same as saying that all cops sit and eat doughnuts all day...I know this is not true because I take the time to educate myself and defend your profession to students who badmouth law enforcement, next time I ask you to educate yourself on what it takes to become and continue to be a teacher, if you do I am sure "working 6 months" will hopefully be one less inaccurate piece of information you post.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Aug 18, 2012 at 09:37 AM in reply to Courtney
          Recruits are provided a $1,500 bi-weekly stipend during training. Once sworn in as a Michigan State Police officer, the annual starting salary is $41,000. The maximum salary for an officer is $62,000 for 20 years of service. Taken right off the web site: http://www.criminaljusticedegreeschools.com/state-trooper-requirements-by-state/michigan/ So your $10 an hour isn't even right. That's more than a starting teacher salary!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Aug 20, 2012 at 08:31 AM in reply to Courtney
          When Troopers are required to have as much education as teachers are required to have, you can start making an apple to apple comparison. Until then, get a life!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Aug 17, 2012 at 12:29 PM in reply to
        Anonymous on Aug 16, 2012 at 10:07 AM Michigan teachers rank 4th in the U.S. for pay. Average inour state is $58,482. Highest is in Brighton, Pickney and Ann Arbor....at $71,000. The lowest paying area is Whitmore, at $52,400. If there are teachers that are not making more than $40,000, then here's my adice to you. Contact your union bosses and ask them why upper management gets paid the six figures they are? I rest my case.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Aug 18, 2012 at 09:52 AM in reply to
          What does a "union boss" have to do with upper management in a school. They are 2 different things. You are quoting the top salary that teachers will get paid after how many years on the job and how much more schooling at least a masters? Starting teachers get $35,000 to $40,000 in the metro areas. In rural areas it's less. And it takes 10 to 20 years to get to the top if they ever get there with most taking pay cuts or pay freezes. As for the 4th in the US it's because Michigan has so many experienced teachers.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 17, 2012 at 06:44 AM in reply to GT
      I have friends and family members who are teachers and feel the need to respond to your inactivate assumptions about the teaching profession. First, most schools begin in September and end in June which means they work more than 6 months. During the summer most teachers continue working by making lesson plans or paying to take college courses to keep their jobs and certification...so even though school is not "in session" teachers continue to work. Also, during the school year teachers work beyond the school day grading papers or working on interventions to help students succeed which means that many can easily work more than 65 hours a week. As a parent I am worried about what these changes will mean. As others have posted, teachers are leaving the profession to make more money in the private sector and I worry about the impact constant pay decreases will have on the stability of the teaching staff in my district...it's hard to attract and keep teachers when it's becoming more profitable for them to walk away to a less demanding profession for more money...lastly, in my district teachers start at 30k but rarely get pay steps so don't believe all the transparency reports...chances are teachers are working well below their step due to freezes and cuts...I too work in the public sector but unlike teachers don't have to buy supplies for my job and don't have to take and pay for college courses to keep my job...please stop the assumptions about the pay and work of teachers, especially working 6 months as I have more free time than my teacher friends and am paid more to do less without a college degree.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM in reply to GT
      This is what my posting was based on. Besides what do you serioursly think that a police officer makes? And how many times have you had to fight with someone or get shot at. Hmmmm
  • by DebbieJ Location: Southeast MI on Aug 16, 2012 at 09:33 AM
    Another nail in the coffin for attracting new employees to Michigan.
  • by Jason on Aug 16, 2012 at 09:29 AM
    Its funny how they continue to cut away at teachers benefits, year in and year out, however other state retirement plans such as politicians and police officers never have to take cuts. Mostly the politicians. As a teacher, I know of many who will leave the profession soon because they cant continue to take cuts each year to their benefits. One being the teacher of the year in Michigan. So in essence it will not attract the "best of the best" teachers in Michigan. This will trickle down to the "achievement gap" that we are so desperately trying to narrow, but how can we do that if we can't attract quality teachers?
    • reply
      by Courtney on Aug 17, 2012 at 07:41 AM in reply to Jason
      Officers do take cuts. They get paid little and are not off during the summers. They work long hours and are told the same as teachers, "we can't afford it so do with what you have." Officers put their lives on the line every single day and are on the clock basically 24/7/365. They don't receive inservice training days and 3 months off. I'm not saying teachers don't deserve this time, as working with kids can be very difficult, but you are comparing steak to lettuce here.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Aug 18, 2012 at 09:44 AM in reply to Courtney
        No you are the one that keeps trying to bring up comparing police and teachers. And your statements about salary and work time are false when it comes to teachers. Both are paid by tax money and both have been pinched. Each has pros and cons.
  • by Robert Sanford Location: Williamston on Aug 16, 2012 at 08:28 AM
    I have no problem changing things as needed in the future, but I have a real problem changing things for Citizens who are already retired, receiving benefits already and based their decisions on agreed upon terms and conditions (Promises). This action is yet another reason not to TRUST our GOVERNMENT. This is also another reason to leave the State if you retired based on benefits you earned that our Government promised you when you retired. It was an earned benefit that you pay 10% of your Health Ins. when you retire for most retired Teachers and all Citizens were to pay no State tax due on S S payments once they reached the age to collect them. Currently there is no reason for anyone to have any faith in our State Gov. Actions speak louder than words! I see the Democrats taking back State Government once again because of the dim whit Republicans again. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb… And the Dems never see a day of reckoning for their entitlement actions.
  • by Doug on Aug 16, 2012 at 07:47 AM
    If Engler hadn't started back in the 90's taking the money that was pre-funding and had been put in the account already, the retirement insurance we wouldn't be in the position. That's how he balanced the state budget back then at the teachers expense. He kicked the can down the road and now teachers are paying for it.
  • by Jean Location: Lansing on Aug 16, 2012 at 07:14 AM
    I for one am tired of paying taxes for their pension and healthcare. No one is helping me pay for mine.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 16, 2012 at 08:56 PM in reply to Jean
      Um that's how schools are funded is by taxes! Are you employed by the state or county? If not NO KIDDING taxes aren't paying for your pension or healthcare. But really everyone is paying for it by buying the service or product that the company makes that you work for! SO WE ARE PAYING YOURS!
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