Michigan Education Association

Retirement proposal would plug $410 million hole in school budget

Bipartisan group of legislators, MEA find solutions to school aid deficit

MEA President, Iris K. Salters speaks to reportersMEA President Iris K. Salters speaks to reporters at Wednesday's press conference. Behind Salters, from left, are Rep. Barbara Byrum, D-Onondaga; Rep. Fred Miller, D-Mount Clemens and Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, who are among the bipartisan group of lawmakers proposing the retirement stimulus. (Click on the image to download a high-resolution image for publication courtesy of MEA.)

LANSING, Mich., January 28, 2009 – The Michigan Education Association and a bipartisan group of lawmakers today unveiled a plan to keep devastating school cuts from impacting Michigan classrooms.

The proposal for the School Employee Retirement Stimulus encourages public school employees who are eligible to retire to do so in the near future. The savings come when school districts are able to replace retiring teachers and staff with newer employees starting at a lower salary. The program would also open badly needed jobs for the next generation of dedicated school employees and keep young families here in Michigan.

If just 10 percent of employees already eligible for retirement take advantage, this stimulus would save more than $410 million next year, helping balance the projected shortfall in the School Aid Fund.  Over the next decade, the plan would save schools more than $1.7 billion.

“These are tough financial times and everyone in Michigan is making sacrifices,” said MEA President Iris K. Salters. “The Michigan Education Association is proud to be part of a solution that saves schools money while investing in the education that will prepare students for the jobs Michigan needs.”

The proposal drew support from members of both parties in the state House and SenateSen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, speaks about the benefits of the School Employee Retirement Stimulus at Wednesday's press conference. Joining him, from left, are Sen. John Gleason, D-Flushing; Rep. Barbara Byrum, D-Onondaga; Rep. Fred Miller, D-Mount Clemens; MEA President Iris K. Salters; Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw; Sen. Bruce Patterson, R-Canton; and Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. Not pictured but present was Sen. Jim Barcia, D-Bay City. (Click on the image to download a high-resolution image for publication courtesy of MEA.)

MEA’s support for this retirement stimulus hinges on keeping the savings in public education – filling the gap in school budgets and ensuring that there are not further cuts in programs to help prepare students for the changing workforce. Furthermore, these savings also must spur greater investment in programs that are proven to help students achieve.

“We have to address our state’s dropout crisis and these savings provide a unique opportunity to invest in early childhood programs, class size reduction and other proven methods to help more students graduate from high school,” Salters said.

Investing some of the savings in teacher training and mentoring is also critical, making sure new, less-experienced teachers gain and maintain all the necessary tools to help students succeed.

The proposal drew support from members of both parties in the state House and Senate. Attending Wednesday’s press conference were Rep. Fred Miller, D-Mount Clemens; Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland; Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw; Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge; Sen. Bruce Patterson, R-Canton; Rep. Barbara Byrum, D-Onondaga; Sen. John Gleason, D-Flushing; and Sen. Jim Barcia, D-Bay City.

Contact: Ed Sarpolus, MEA Director of Government Affairs, (517) 927-9776

 

Updated: February 17, 2009 5:20 PM