Earlier this year, the Governor’s Task Force on Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government adopted recommendations calling for greater transparency and oversight of the hundreds of individual pension plans offered by local governments in Michigan.
Last week, however, bills introduced in the House and Senate on November 30 (SB 686-701 and HB 5298-5313) go far beyond what the Task Force recommended.
We do not need a “one-size-fits-all” approach to local retirement and healthcare benefits. Unfortunately, the bills as introduced create broad mandates that restrict home rule, jeopardize health care benefits for retirees who have relied on them for years, and create a mechanism where decisions that affect thousands of municipal employees could be made by a trio named by the Governor.
The Email below was sent to all Legislators on 12/6/17 voicing our concerns with this legislation:
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE:
SEIU 517M opposes Senate Bills 686-701 and House Bills 5298-5313. As introduced, this legislation could cost thousands of current retirees’ health care benefits. It also undermines local units of governments who have worked for years to provide benefits to the workforce that has served their communities by providing police and fire protection and other city services like waste water treatment, road maintenance, library, court and mental health services. They have worked together to maintain benefits for current and future retirees at an affordable cost for their community and their employees and retirees.
While SEIU 517M recognizes the need for reform in funding municipal retirement plans we believe the collaborative approach recommended by the Task Force is reasoned and thoughtful. It allows for local solutions that recognize local needs. It doesn’t undermine the ability of local units to attract and retain a qualified work force needed to deliver essential services. It doesn’t force failed or unproven “solutions” to complex and difficult problems on communities in Michigan. AND it doesn’t risk the health and safety of those communities by transferring control to unelected, unaccountable state appointees.
The bills before you take drastic action far beyond the Responsible Retirement Reform for Government Task Force recommendations the most serious of which are outlined below:
While those points listed above are the most extreme and egregious provisions there are many other provisions included in the legislation that go beyond the consensus recommendations.
While not the only factor a huge contributing factor for local governments is the significant loss of revenue sharing over the last 25+ years that proponents of this legislation indicate “we are trying to find solutions, not place blame” but never address the issue of lost revenue on local governments or a willingness to provide helpful future funding options for local governments to use to eliminate State concerns on this issue.
SEIU 517M and our almost 2,000 current local government members and thousands of retirees oppose this legislation because it goes beyond what is reasonably necessary to fix the problem and potentially jeopardizes the health and livelihood of those who faithfully serve(d) their community and the taxpayers of Michigan. We ask you to implement the recommendations of the Task Force and oppose anything that goes beyond the Task Force agreement.
Liza Estlund Olson, Executive Director
SEIU Local 517M
George Heath, President
SEIU Local 517M