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Senate bills would give some former troopers higher pensions

Jun 30, 2015

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

Two bills are being considered by the Michigan Legislature that would give some former Michigan State Police troopers higher pensions.

Senate bills 21 and 22 would give 96 ex-troopers who retired before Oct. 1, 1986, a pension of at least $16,000 a year.

Michigan Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, is one of the bill's sponsors.

He says all the affected troopers are at least in their mid-80s.

"We just think it's a nice gesture," Casperson said. "Maybe giving them a little bit of dignity at the end of their life."

Michigan Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, is one of the bill's sponsors and a former Michigan trooper.

He says unlike other pensions, troopers don't pay into Social Security. Therefore, they only have one source of income.

"Other state employees paid into Social Security, so in addition to their pension they get a Social Security benefit," Nofs said. "So they are getting two sources of income. That's not the state trooper's fault because it was the state's decision to not have them pay into Social Security."

The bills would only affect ex-troopers whose pensions are below the poverty line.

The bills would also have the pensions adjust to reflect cost-of-living increases every year.

Casperson said many earlier pension plans did not have mechanisms that adjusted for inflation.

"That's where we think they got left behind," Casperson said. "And then it really put some of these people in a really tough spot as they got older."

According to the Office of Retirement Services, 23 retirees has a pension less than $12,000; 50 retirees have a pension between $12,000 and $14,999; and 23 retirees have a pension between $15,000 and $16,000.

The bills also allocate $5,000 for an actuarial study to research the financial impacts of increasing the pensions.

The bills were passed in the Senate by a unanimous vote on June 17.