Timing for MPSERS changes and budget may coincide

Look for legislation before spring break that would change retirement benefits for public school employees. An eight-member, all-Republican work group has been meeting for months looking to make reforms.

The group is looking at several solutions--one being moving everyone in the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. This, however, would require a hefty upfront cost. Another option could be to make employees pay more. School districts are now picking up 24 percent of MPSERS costs. There is $179 million in the Governor's budget to help school districts defray costs.

The goal is to have legislation to the Governor in time for the budget so school districts can have a better handle on their finances. But no legislation has been introduced to date--as bills are introduced, MEA will be providing analysis and calls to action to all members.

Republicans are distraught over what they claim is more than $45 million in unfunded liability. They don't seem to be so upset over the fact that their push for privatization and charter schools is part of the reason for that problem.