The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Michigan School Teacher Pensions under Attack

May 22, 2017

When lawmakers wax on about cutting income taxes, working people would be wise to hold on to their wallets.

In Michigan, for example, the Republican controlled legislature takes every opportunity to push for a cut to the 4.25 percent personal income tax. But this is only a cover for their intentions to cut funding for any and all public spending; for health care, for schools, for aid of any kind.

Their most recent discussions, coming out of state budget talks, call for further attacks on Michigan schoolteachers. They want to use the School Aid Fund, which is doing better than anticipated, to pay the high costs of closing off the current defined benefit pension programs to any new teacher enrollment. They want to force all new teachers into 401K plans which would deprive them of any real protections for retirement.

This tactic has been used against workers in the private sector with great success – for the bosses, that is. Public workers, including schoolteachers, have been the latest targets of these attacks. Already, school administrations across the United States have moved to strip teachers of protections like tenure and decent health care plans.

This recent proposal by Michigan politicians works against the total population. New teachers would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement benefits, and already retired teachers and teachers in line for retirement would be next on the chopping block. Workers’ children will be negatively impacted as teachers are less well rewarded and forced into worse circumstances that make it harder to teach.

All this to cut some millionaires’ and billionaires’ taxes so that they can have one more house or one more yacht on Lake Michigan? All of us have reason to demonstrate our opposition to this wolf in sheep’s clothing.