Skubick: Budget stalls over teacher pensions

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Governor Rick Snyder and the two Republican legislative leaders are at a crossroads on the state budget.

Their disagreement over changing the teacher retirement system is stalling efforts to finish the budget.

Numerous sources report the governor is not giving in to the two Republican leaders who want to change the teacher retirement system.

And because the three can’t agree on that, the two leaders are going around the governor and finishing the budget on their own.

State Senator Arlan Meekhof insists “we’re working with the House and figuring out how to put a budget together.”

Is it with or without the governor’s blessing?

Sen. Meekhof answers it’s without Snyder’s blessing.

But he doesn’t believe the governor is digging in on the budget. “I wouldn’t say that. We have given him some new numbers to consider and he paused.”

So does the senator consider a pause to be interpreted as a plus? Sen. Meekhof is succinct in his response, “wouldn’t you?”

The Republican governor is aligned with the Democrats on leaving the current teacher retirement system in place.

Democrat Senator David Knezek says the Republican plan would hurt teachers. “I think it’s pretty disingenuous that we are giving pay hikes to the governor, lt. governor and others while taking away pensions for teachers. It’s a shameful commentary.”

But Mr. Meekhof argues if the state does nothing, the debt in the pension system will hurt teachers in the long run. As for disagreement with the governor?

He wouldn’t call it a stalemate. “I’d say snail mate.”

The three Republicans are not scheduled to meet again until next week while this town waits to see who blinks first.

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