Skubick: Sides forming in Capitol over pensions and health care

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – While labor and Democrats are telling Gov. Rick Snyder to delay until next year any debate over boosting retiree health care contributions, the governor is saying the timing is up to the legislature.

House Republicans are making serious noises about tackling a potentially explosive issue during the last nine days of the legislative session known as “lame duck”.

They may push legislation that would force public servants, including police officers, firefighters and local city workers, to cough up a bigger contribution for their health care benefits.

The governor wants to make sure the retiree health care fund does not run out of money.

“Don’t we want to make sure that the liabilities get covered in some effective fashion?,” asked Snyder. “Because if people are getting benefits let’s make sure they get paid for health care.”

The incoming House Democratic leader Rep. Sam Singh agrees but he believes it is wrong to rush through these increases costs during lame duck.

He’s asking the governor to continue a deliberate debate starring next year.

The governor says the timing issue is out of his hands.

“There’s been some discussion for sometime. We’re not pushing forward big proposals at this time. We’ll waiting to see how the legislature would like to handle it. It’s their schedule.”

Over at the Republican-controlled Senate the Republicans are making noises about eliminating pensions for new teachers and moving them into a 401k.

Right now teachers have a so-called hybrid option to pick that or a regular pension.

The governor says that option is working and he has no plans to change it.

“It has worked well. It’s a good program and I don’t have any intentions to really talk about changing that. We can have a discussion about municipal costs over some time period.”

Since Democrats don’t have the votes to control the agenda, they are at the mercy of Republicans to figure how when and how to address the retiree pension and health care costs.

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