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Legislation Cuts Teacher Benefits

Newly hired Michigan public school employees would pay more for their pensions and lose state-funded health care in retirement under a bill headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for approval.

Newly hired public school employees in Michigan would pay more for their pensions and lose state-funded health care in retirement under a bill headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for approval.

Sponsors of the bill, which was approved Wednesday in the Republican-controlled House and Senate, said it will save school districts an estimated $300 million annually and trim $15 billion in legacy debt, according to The Detroit News.

"This system is costing school districts more and more every year and we need this reform before all school funding goes to pay for retirement instead of to teach Michigan students," Rep. Bill Rogers R-Brighton said in a press release. "It is our duty to help our school districts get out of this impossible situation and they cannot wait any longer for us to get this done."

Employees hired after Aug. 1 would pay $2,000 into a health care account, plus a matching contribution of up to 2 percent of their pay toward a 401(k)-type account, according to the Free Press.

"This is a big step for financial accountability," Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said in an Associated Press report on mlive.com.

But, Democrats saw the bill differently.

"Attacking teachers this way is just another assault on our students who are already suffering mightily from the budget cuts imposed by the governor and the Republicans in the last two budgets," state Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, D-Huntington Woods, responded Thursday in a press release.

"Michigan will not be a leader in anything if we don't treat women, families and students well," she said. "This latest attack on teachers and schools will come back to haunt us in the future when we fail to graduate students who are ready for higher education and the workforce, and when we fail to provide a good quality of life for retirees."

The following is a list of local school districts and how much each would save over the next two years with the reforms:

Brighton                           $3,119,242     

Howell                              $3,877,456

South Lyon                       $3,552,472

Huron Valley                    $5,557,681

Pinckney                           $2,190,692

Hartland                            $2,496,507

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