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teacher pensions

Teacher and students at Flint's Southwestern Academy.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

George Orwell’s classic Cold War novel 1984 depicted a world where everything was controlled by a nightmarish dictatorship where history was constantly being rewritten to suit the needs of the moment, and where the meaning of words was turned into their opposite: War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, et cetera. I was reminded of that yesterday, when I got an Orwellian press release from the governor’s office.

Michigan is facing a teacher shortage.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law controversial changes to the state’s public school employee retirement system.

Starting in February of 2018, new teachers will get a new choice about their retirement savings. They’ll automatically be put into a straight 401(k) plan. But they can enroll in a hybrid plan if they want. That hybrid plan also includes a pension, but it’s more expensive for the teacher. 

Senator Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair says 401(k)s are the way of the future.

exterior of the Michigan state capital
Pkay Chelle / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

These are busy days in Lansing. Among other things, the legislature is working out the final details of the state budget before its summer recess. Last week, state Attorney General Bill Schuette charged a number of current and former officials with crimes related to the Flint water crisis.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

A deal for the state’s budget and teacher retirement has been made.

Top Republican lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder have been in a stalemate over what to do with the teacher’s retirement plan.

But now a deal is in place.

The current teacher retirement plan gives teachers the option between a straight 401K and a hybrid 401K and pension-type plan.

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There’s no end yet to the standoff between Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature’s Republican leaders that’s delayed wrapping up the state budget. But they are talking again.

 

 

creative commons

There’s a legend that Secretary of State Dean Rusk summed up what happened in the Cuban Missile Crisis by saying, “We were eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.”

Well, things were considerably more complicated than that.

But right now the governor and the legislature are eyeball to eyeball over the future of teacher pensions in this state, and it isn’t clear who’ll be blinking.

dugganfordetroit.com

At the 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference this week, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan flatly explained to a mostly white audience the systematic racism that shaped the city of Detroit and the surrounding region. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessnberry talk about the impact of Duggan's speech and his vision for Detroit's future.

flickr

For the first time since he's been governor, the leaders from the state House and Senate have signed a target budget agreement without Rick Snyder's input. House Speaker Tom Leonard and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof want to close the pension system for new Michigan teachers and only offer a 401k. Governor Snyder's not a fan of that idea.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Lawmakers are ramping up work on the state budget after cutting Gov. Rick Snyder out of talks.

Republican leaders over the weekend set "target" spending levels - a key step needed before the House and Senate this week can start ironing out differences in a $55 billion spending plan. The leaders proceeded despite an impasse with the Republican governor over closing the pension system to newly-hired school employees.

Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Legislative economists estimate that it would cost $410 million in the first year to close Michigan's pension system to newly hired teachers and instead provide them a 401(k) only.

creative commons

We have an education crisis in this state; in case you haven’t noticed, Michigan is having trouble recruiting enough teachers, especially good teachers, especially in our larger cities.

That’s not surprising.

Teaching elementary and high school students is difficult and draining, if done right. You are chained to the academic calendar –no fall vacations or long weekends. Teaching involves a lot of work on nights and weekends.