Skubick: Teacher pension deal runs into opposition

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – The Snyder administration and Republicans are moving quickly to pass a new teacher retirement system while the school community and teacher unions are opposing the changes.

A House committee took up the new Republican deal on teacher retirement at 8:15 this morning while the Senate committee started its review at 8 a.m.

The legislation is on a fast track over the objections of school administrators, teacher unions and Democrats.

Lobbyist for the school administrators Peter Spadafore argues, changes can be made without re-inventing the pension system.

“Why don’t we do that,” asks Spadafore. “That seems to be a much more certain route rather than creating an entirely new system that places a huge burden on employees and puts a lot of uncertainty into their retirement.

Democrats oppose the change, contending new teachers have to sign a contract that is not in their best interest.

“They’re being asked to sign a contract that may change their retirement age,” says Rep. Adam Zemke. “We may increase your costs and you’re signing off on that. Who would ever select that idea? Democrats are not interested in transferring risk from the state to teachers.”

Wrong, counters Rep. Tim Kelly, who says teachers should face investment risks along with everybody else.

“Everybody else shares in a risk,” explains Rep. Kelly. “This idea that we’re going to treat one group of individuals differently that everyone else, it flies in the face of where reality goes.”

The House and Senate could vote on all this as early as next week while opponents hope to pick off enough Republicans to make sure it does not pass.

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