Is Michigan committed to its teachers?

Dec 1, 2017 by

2010 law amounted to a legislatively-imposed pay cut for all in the public school retirement system, Addonizio writes

The Michigan Supreme Court will soon decide whether the state of Michigan violated the state constitution when it seized $550 million from the paychecks of more than 200,000 public school employees between 2010 and 2012 to help pay for school employees’ retiree health care. If the high court upholds a 2016 Court of Appeals ruling that the money was unconstitutionally seized, these funds, now earning interest in an escrow account, would have to be paid back immediately with interest. If Gov. Rick Snyder wins his appeal, the funds would revert to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System.

This mandatory payroll reduction was passed in 2010 by a Democratic-controlled House and Republican-run Senate and signed by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm as MPSERS costs for retiree health care benefits rose faster than state and local K-12 revenue and federal stimulus funding was coming to an end. But the Legislature apparently came to believe they were on thin constitutional ice with their “mandatory contribution” scheme when they passed an amended law in 2012 allowing school employees to opt out. The Michigan Supreme Court upheld the replacement law in 2012, but must now rule on the original, involuntary payroll tax.

The issue before our state’s highest court appears narrow, but raises larger issues about our state commitment to our public schools and classroom teachers. By mandating this contribution by teachers in order to maintain retiree health benefits they had been promised, the contested 2010 law amounted to a legislatively-imposed pay cut for all teachers in MPSERS — that is, all teachers working in traditional district schools and in charter schools authorized by local or intermediate school boards.

Source: Column: Is Michigan committed to its teachers?

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