Jul 17, 2017
The latest rifle-volley against public education comes in the form of the “Public School Employees Retirement Act” signed into law by Governor Snyder in Michigan on July 13, 2017. This retiree plan is filled with complicated “hybrid” options for newly hired public school employees, dressed up to appear as if they have more retirement package “choices.” But its essential goal is to get rid of guaranteed pensions altogether.
And before the ink was dry on this attack on teacher pensions, legislators said they intend to try to extend these “changes” to other public employees, including police officers and firefighters as well as other city employees.
Like everywhere in the country, in Michigan, legislators had insisted that public school pension funds have become too expensive, and that they needed to address billions of dollars in unfunded liability in the teacher retirement system. But it’s these same politicians who have played roulette with the money that public school employees have paid into the state pension system. They took the money and ran to the stock market. They have used public school funds to fund charter schools, that don’t pay into the state-wide public school pension system. They continue to give tax breaks to corporations and real estate moguls, and then cry that public school employees and city workers are to blame for the financial “liabilities” in the state budget.
So while today it is public school employees under attack, other public employees’ guaranteed pensions are also in the bulls-eye. This new law is the shot over the bow. It’s a beginning of a new round of attacks that will only continue until teachers and firefighters and any other group of workers who come under attack find the way to defend themselves in this class battle.