House Committee moving closer to SB 1040 vote

At today’s House Appropriations Committee meeting, Committee members had their chance to ask questions of representatives from the House Fiscal Agency and Phil Stoddard, Director of Michigan’s Office of Retirement (ORS) about SB 1040 and the H-1 amendment .

While some Republican Committee members are still patting themselves on the back for shifting retirements costs to those who can ill afford them as a way of saving the retirement system, it was clear that Democratic Committee members are uncomfortable with the bill’s impact on current and future school employees and retirees.

Their concerns echoed Monday’s testimony from retirees and current school employees who object to the 20 percent retiree contribution to health care which will have a devastating financial impact. The issue of fairness concerned some Democrats who see SB 1040 as reneging on the promise of a secure retirement for school employees. The bill’s constitutionality was also questioned and the possibility of a lawsuit was mentioned.

Stoddard addressed the financial concerns with a reminder that low income subsidies exist for those finding it hard to make ends meet.

Begrudgingly, Rep. Moss, Committee Chair, admitted to questioning by Rep. Lindberg (D-Marquette) that no Democrats were part of a legislative workgroup formed to deal with the retirement system’s $44 billion unfunded liability. In response, Lindberg urged the Committee to take its time making such a monumental shift in retirement plans.

The bill is on a very fast track with action expected tomorrow. The Committee will take up an H-2 substitute that reportedly will give new hires the choice of going to a defined contribution plan. This is a political move and helps no one. Once the substitute is approved, the bill will be voted out of Committee and on to the House floor.

CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES NOW! Tell them SB 1040 is not fair. It’s a short-term fix to a long-term problem. Current and future school employees and retirees should not have to pay the exorbitant price to fix a problem they didn’t create. SB 1040 will hurt students, parents and public education in general. Use these talking points and tell them to vote “NO.”