Skubick: Changing teacher retirement system hits hot buttons in Capitol

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – It appears that Governor Rick Snyder is on a collision course with Senate Republicans over attempts to change the teacher retirement system.

As lawmakers return to the lame duck session, this is a hot button issue.

When they start taking about changing the teacher pension systems, teachers show up.

“I feel we’re being targeted. We’ve earned our pensions and I don’t want them taking it away,” says retired Jackson teacher Carolyn Reynolds.

Under the current teacher retirement the so-called hybrid system teachers have a choice.

The Senate Republican leader wants to drop the option and mandate that all new incoming teachers buy a 401K

The governor believes the debt in the system needs to be erased but the potential sticky point is that the governor thinks the current system is working just fine and he’s not presenting any changes.

“The hybrid system is working for teachers and I am not working on any new plans to change that,” claims Snyder.

The Democrats argue if new teachers are not paying into the pension system, the fund will run out of money for those already on a pension.

“This is going to cost taxpayers millions of dollars, maybe hundreds of millions over the next ten years,” claims Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. “We’re going to have to make up the shortfall as well as not getting as qualified teachers in the classroom.”

Senate Republican leader Arlan Meekhof argues 27 cents of every state dollar going to schools is earmarked for pensions.

And he believes you can find a way to keep the system whole for everyone.

Sen. Meekhof explains “we’ll let our bean crunchers do that and find the correct balance. I think there is an opportunity to make a secure retirement from for folks and fund the other ones.”

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