Snyder officials: Teacher pension plan to cost billions

Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-01 07:27:53-05

The Senate has put off a vote on a controversial bill that would switch new teachers to a 401(k) plan and close the pension system, despite testimony from the Synder administration saying it will cost the state billions.

The Michigan Office of Retirement Services says the proposal could cost taxpayers between $1.6 to $3.8 billion in the next 5 years.

That's on top of the $27 billion in unfunded liabilities for the current teacher pension plan. The bills on the table do not address that amount.

The bills were narrowly passed out of a Senate committee and are now on the Senate floor where a vote could happen Thursday.

Republican Sen. Rick Jones, (R-Grand Ledge), says he wants to vote on a solution before session is over, but he'll only support a set of bills that deal with both issues.

"I'm going to look at the final figures on how the state is going to be able to secure the teachers pension, that is critical to every teacher that is working now or retired, and get everything they were promised," Jones said.

He will only support a plan that stops what he calls the hemorrhaging of money that should go to the classroom.

"A huge percentage of every dollar that goes to the classroom goes to the teacher pension fund and it's growing," he added.

Across the aisle Democratic Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., (D-Lansing) says that's all the new plan will do.

"Everyone is saying it will cost more money and in the long run will lead to less qualified teachers in the classroom, and will cost more immediate money out of our classrooms. It makes no sense," he explained.

So if the bills pass he's hoping Governor Snyder will veto them/

"I'd like him to stop this nonsense," Hertel said.

Retired teacher Catherine McLogan calls the vote discouraging.

"Of course you're very concerned especially when they've been un-funding it for years," she said.

McLogan worked in Michigan schools for 33 years, and while she says she never went into for the money, she wants to paid what she deserves and make sure new teachers get the same.

"You have based everything you have on a certain retirement and it is of course unsettling," McLogan said.

And McLogan says it speaks volumes that no teachers testified in support of the bills.

"It's discouraging to think they would do that to their lifelong employees," she added.

The Snyder administration believes the bills will cost the state $25 billion dollars over the next 30 years.