Skubick: Showdown looms in Capitol over teacher retirement plans

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Teacher unions are headed for another showdown fight with some Republicans over proposed changes to the teacher retirement system.

The battle lines are being drawn inside the State Capitol.

The Senate and House Republican leaders are on one side trying to revamp the teacher retirement system by mandating that new teachers stay out of the current system and purchase a 401k instead.

With the two teacher unions on the other side trying to keep the so-called hybrid system that was passed about five years ago.

When this issue mushroomed late last year the governor said he wanted to give that hybrid system more time to work.

But Senate Republican leader Sen. Arlan Meekhof is telling the governor, the state can do better.

“What is their best affordable and modern retirement system that people would want to be a part of,” asked Sen. Meekhof. “I’m hoping we come up with a better option.”

Senate Republicans have set aside about $500 million to begin work on that.

Rep. Tim Kelly, the chair of the House K-12 budget, contends if nothing is done to reduce the costs in the current system, “we collapse.”

Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. responds “I don’t think it has anything to do with saving the system.”

To which Rep. Kelly says, “This is about saving what there is and protecting those that already have this and making a better option for teachers’ income.

Democratic Hertel says that’s not the agenda at all. “I think it has to do with the fact that they don’t respect teachers. We de-professionalized this profession.”

Republicans are hoping the governor will reverse himself and support their move.

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