Wednesday, April 28, 2010

House passes, Senate Rejects MEA-Supported Pension Reforms

From "MEA VOICE Online" ----
House passes, Senate rejects MEA-supported pension reforms

SB 1227 goes to conference committee next -- make your voice heard in support of House version

On Tuesday, the state House passed its version of pension reform legislation that would offer an early retirement incentive without any of Gov. Granholm's penalties for continuing to work. (See article on the blog from April 26th).
As reported by MEA last week, the House version of SB 1227 also would ensure that remaining school employees who pay an additional 3 percent into the retirement system get value for their contributions in the form of secure retirement health benefits.
MEA supported this version of SB 1227, which passed on a vote of 59-45.

Shortly after the House's action, the Senate voted to reject the changes to the bill -- that vote started the conference committee process, wherein representatives from the two chambers meet to iron out the significant differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Members of the conference committee include
Rep. Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing),
Rep. Martin Griffin (D-Jackson),
Rep. James Bolger (R-Marshall),
Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Grand Rapids),
Sen. Judson Gilbert (R-Algonac), and
Sen. Deborah Cherry (D-Burton).
Please use your home emails to contact the legislators!

At this time, there is not a meeting scheduled for this conference committee, but MEA will keep you informed of any developments

Monday, April 19, 2010

ATTEND Thursday, April 29th, 2010 SCHOOL BOARD MEETING

Dear Walled Lake Education Members,

Please plan to attend the WLCSD School Board Meeting on THURSDAY, April 29th, 2010.

When: Thursday, April 29 @ 6:00 p.m.

Where: The ESC Building, located at
850 Ladd Rd., Bldg. D
Walled Lake 48390

It is expected that the Board of Education will be approving the list of "pink slipped" teachers recommended by the WLCSD Administration.

PLEASE COME TO SHOW that the WLEA is paying attention and to show support for our fellow teachers!

Friday, April 16, 2010

APRIL 26th NEWS - Michigan House proposes NEW, IMPROVED Retirement Bill

The State House of Representatives was busy last week working on the “H-4” bill. The “H-4” Bill is the House’s version of Senate Bill 1227.

This bill has changed DRAMATICALLY from the Senate Bill in many important ways. The House adjourned on Thursday and is expected to return tomorrow, Tuesday, April 27th. It may come up for a vote at that time.

The details:
1) While it would still require all school employees to contribute an additional 3% of salary avoe what they are currently paying into retirement funds, this bill would place that 3% into an irrevocable trust for the purpose of funding retirement health benefits and contains language creating a contractual right to retirement benefits.
2) Places all Public School Academy employees and other third party contracted employees working in a school district into MPSERS effective July 1, 2010. (This is excellent news for privatized groups!)
a. Someone who retires prior to July 1, 2010 would receive a 1.7% multiplier (an extra .2%)
b. Someone who retires between July 1, 2010 and October 1, 2010 would receive a 1.6% multiplier.
*** Can not exceed $114,000 Final Average Compensation
c. Provides for a phased-in retirement with the ability to work up to 50% of previous hours
d. Easier requirements for those on disability leave to qualify for insurance.

1) The 30 year cap on accumulated service is removed. NO CAP.
2) The “hybrid” retirement plan for new employees is removed.
3) The loss of dental and vision insurance for future retires is GONE.

The MEA supports this version of the bill. Before it can become law, it must be reconciled with the Senate version of the bill!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Senate passes pension legislation -- SB 1227 heads to House

First, let me thank everyone who called or wrote their Michigan Senator today! Many of you shared your messages with me, and I have to say, I have no idea why the Senate thought this was a good idea......

For more information, go to:

The Senate passed Senate Bill 1227, which would require those who don't retire by October to pay as much as 3 percent more of their salary toward the pension system.

Senate Bill 1227 does not include an increased multiplier, as originally proposed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. It does not include the 30 year cap, nor the removal of dental and vision.

The bill passed with 21 Republican votes and a lone Democratic vote -- one Republican voted against the bill, along with the rest of the Democrats.

The bill now moves on to the House.........I ask again, please call and write your state representatives and urge them to vote no on Senate Bill 1227. Their names, phones, and email information are included below. (use your cell phones and home emails, please)

State Representative Vicki Barnett
Phone: 517-373-1793
Fax: 517-373-8501

State Representative Lisa Brown
Phone: 517-373-1799
Fax: 517-373-8361

State Representative Hugh Crawford
Phone: 517-373-0827
Fax: 517-373-5873

State Representative Eileen Kowall
Phone: 517-373-2616
Fax: 517-373-5843


Please contact your senator immediately to urge him or her to oppose changes that would increase how much you are required to contribute toward your pension – passing this legislation will NOT solve Michigan’s budget crisis. And, it will harm students, who could lose experienced teachers and staff who retire in order to avoid increased payments and penalties.

Say NO to an additional 3% payment to the retirement fund FROM YOUR PAYCHECKS! We can not allow the state to attempt to balance the State Budget on our BACKS!! (For a person earning $60,000, this would mean that $1800 would be cut from your pay. If you earn $80,000, this would mean $2400)

Say NO to a required payment of 20% toward your health care!

Say NO to punitive measures passed that would affect those who do not retire this year; i.e., increased medical costs in retirement, a freeze on experience paid out, etc.

Please use your cell phones and CALL TODAY! Or use your home emails, and email TODAY!!! Thank you! Gilda Jacobs is teacher-friendly! Nancy Cassis WANTS TO CUT YOUR PAY NOW!!!!

Senator Nancy Cassis
Phone: 517-373-1758
Fax: 517-373-0938

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop
Phone: 517-373-2417
Fax: 517-373-2694

Senator Gilda Jacobs
Phone: 517-373-7888
Fax: 517-373- 2983

News from Lansing from a person "other than the MEA"

News from Lansing that I have received through a lobbyist source OTHER than the MEA - This is very interesting and quite informative, but might make your blood boil! (from Terese)
Senate To Vote On Barebones Retirement Plan
Senate Republicans are scaling back teacher and public employee retirement plans in an effort to pass something this week, despite continued opposition from the Michigan Education Association (MEA).
When asked what could be done to bring the MEA on board, a frustrated Sen. Jud GILBERT (R-Algonac) deadpanned, "A gun."

MEA spokesman Doug PRATT confirmed that the union doesn't back the new plan. MIRS asked what would have to change to garner the MEA's support.

"For starters, it would have to include some sort of positive incentive for teachers to retire, which the Senate stripped out," Pratt said.

He added that making teachers contribute to the retirement system "simply wasn't a good solution to the state's structural problem." Pratt said that former Gov. John ENGLER raided the system to fund his tax cuts and it wasn't fair for teachers to have to pick up the tab.

"This is another gimmick, another game Lansing is trying to play to balance the budget," Pratt said.

Sen. Mark JANSEN (R-Gaines Twp.) has met with local MEA members, who he says understand that changes need to be made to the public retirement system, even if the union leadership does not.

Jansen and Gilbert, sponsors of SB 1126 and SB 1127, respectively, told reporters today that the substitutes will raise $211 million for the School Aid Fund (SAF) -- about three-quarters of the original proposal.

MIRS asked if that meant a per-pupil cut would be needed in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 to balance the School Aid Fund. Savings from the retirement plan in the Senate-passed K-12 budget were supposed to offset a $118 per-student cut.

"There's been no discussion of how to handle a per-pupil cut," Gilbert said.

Jansen said the goal was to come as "close as possible" to the targets in the K-12 budget.

As MIRS reported Monday, lawmakers and Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM administration officials have spent spring break hashing through a compromise after the Senate lacked the votes last month to take up legislation on the floor (See "Senate A 'Smidgen' Closer On Retirement," 4/12/10). The House has taken no action.

Gilbert said the 30-year cap on benefits is gone in the "greatly scaled-back" substitutes, but the 1.5 multiplier will stay. Before spring break, Republicans offered the Governor's original plan, a 1.6 multiplier, to entice Democrats, but that failed.

Public employees will not have to kick in for their dental and vision -- another sticking point -- but they will be responsible for a 3-percent contribution. Jansen said he believes these reforms are enough to help stabilize the retirement system and aid local districts, which will no longer be responsible for 3 percent of the costs."It's a step in the right direction," he said. "We're asking people to help out in bad economic times."

Gilbert said he believes they are "close" in getting three or four necessary votes from Republicans to pass legislation on Wednesday or Thursday, although he does not expect the caucus to unanimously support it. Granholm has set a deadline by the end of the week.

MIRS asked Granholm's office if her administration had rounded up any Democratic votes ."Clearly, we are expecting action in the Senate this week on the retirement plan," Press Secretary Liz BOYD said. "Once the Senate acts, we look forward to working with the House to move the bills to the Governor's desk. "The senators were asked if it was difficult to work on the retirement plans the Governor proposed, as she was on an economic development mission to Europe. "I guess we did it without her," Jansen said. "I take that back. (Budget Director) Bob EMERSON was a great help in the process." Boyd said that Granholm was only gone for three session days -- today, Wednesday and Thursday. She also noted that the Governor proposed the retirement plan in her Feb. 11 budget address and said the Legislature has not taken action. She also noted that as budget director, Emerson is the Governor's "point person" on the budget. "To say the Governor hasn't been part of the process is ludicrous," Boyd said. "It's her proposal. "Emerson Tries To Sell Senate D's State Budget Director Bob EMERSON briefed the Senate Democratic caucus on Tuesday, hoping to round up some votes for the Governor's program to lure 9,000 state civil servants and 39,000 teachers into retirement.

Commenting on the emerging agreement with the Senate Republicans, Emerson confessed, "it doesn't do all that we suggested," but he is pleased with the direction the talks are taking, even though some Democrats are not. Sen. Gretchen WHITMER (D-East Lansing) said Emerson did not lay out all of the details, but did confirm that the vision and dental coverage for retirees would be saved. Until she sees all the details, she said she remains a "no vote" on the package. Even though the Governor originally proposed the elimination of those benefits, Emerson said they were a "small part of the savings" and therefore not critical to the overall savings that comes from the 3 percent contribution retirees will have to make.

Some Democrats prefer to raise new dollars to avoid the retirements and cost cutting measures but Emerson concludes, "It's clear to me that we are not going to raise enough revenue to fix this and leave everything the way it was . . . Everyone is going to have to make sacrifices" and as a former labor union member, Emerson said he understands the impact this will have on employees but this "has to be done for the health of the system" he added.