State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker issued the following statement on Friday:

“The men and women who serve our communities as law enforcement officers and firefighters place their lives in harm’s way each day to keep us safe. Our government has made promises to these brave individuals and their families, upon which they make important financial and life decisions. With the Detroit bankruptcy, we saw a judge unilaterally cut retiree benefits.

The Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force issued a report which would protect benefits, in addition to ensuring financial health for our local units of government.

I support the reforms in the report and believe that coupled with our current emergency manager law, we can prevent local governments from reaching bankruptcy while also protecting the promises made to our law enforcement officers and firefighters.

Therefore, I cannot support Senate Bills 686-701 as introduced, since they fail to protect those promises. “

tonya schutimaker statement on senate bills 686-701

POAM thanks Senator Schutimaker for her continued support of Michigan’s law enforcement officers.

19 responses to “Senator Tonya Schuitmaker Issues Statement on Senate Bills 686-701

Posted by Rick Sanchez

I thought it was interesting that the Governor’s representative quoted the state constitution in her response to Harry V:

“Because the Governor cannot introduce legislation, I would encourage you to contact your state legislators. State law must be made through the legislative process. Article IV, Section 22 of the Constitution of the state of Michigan of 1963, as amended, states that “all legislation shall be by bill and may originate in either house.””

Here’s another quote from the state Constitution:

Ҥ 24 Public pension plans and retirement systems, obligation.

“Sec. 24.

The accrued financial benefits of each pension plan and retirement system of the state and its political subdivisions shall be a contractual obligation thereof which shall not be diminished or impaired thereby.

Financial benefits arising on account of service rendered in each fiscal year shall be funded during that year and such funding shall not be used for financing unfunded accrued liabilities.”

Posted on December 7, 2017 at 2:06 AM

Posted by ED JACQUES

With all due respect to Mr. Secchia, this proposed legislation or Act 312 does not protect police or fire personnel from the same fate that was bestowed upon their collegues in Detroit. In fact, it creates an easy avenue for irresponsible administrators to fix their mis-managed budgets on the backs of the hard working employees in their municipalities by allowing a process to take place that negates negotiated contracts. It is an emotional issue because the demands of our jobs are obviously dangerous to our health and we have chosen to pass on wage increases over the years to protect retirement and healthcare benefits. It can become a tirade when politicians accuse us of causing economic shortfalls and threaten the security of our families.

Posted on December 6, 2017 at 2:33 PM

Posted by Charles Lux

Bull shit letter by governor. The legislature isn’t even following the task force recommendations. Task force was a farce cover up. You gave tax cuts to corporations and now the police officers, fire fighters and municipal employees and citizens are going to pay for it. Not to mention the revenue sharing the governor cut from cities with no warning. These cuts to the largest cities caused them financial hardships. Then the governor could put his hand picked emergency managers in place. They did such a great job in Flint and Detroit.

Posted on December 6, 2017 at 2:06 AM

Posted by Matt Ward

In reference to what Mr Secchia posted, again a “one size fits all” approach does not work and is not fair to all involved. The OPEB committee came up with ideas for sacrifice that all parties could live with. Yet the Republicans don’t want to hear it. Many municipalities have already closed pensions and ended retiree health care. So they are already addressing the problems. Unfounded liabilities will not be paid off over night. Why continue to punish those municipalities with these bills that threaten an Emergency Manager? We’ve seen how well that worked in Flint.

And let’s be honest Mr Secchia, if Republican’s were really interested in helping municipalities they why don’t they restore revenue sharing? I have yet to get an answer on that from ANY Republican lawmaker. Republicans have gutted revenue sharing, it seems, specifically so that municipalities will struggle financially and then the State can come in with an Emergency Manager and destroy union contracts.

Mr Secchia, why do you Republicans hate us so much? What did we as Police Officers and Fire Fighters do to you other than put our lives at risk every day we go to work to protect you?

Matt Ward
Sergeant, Saginaw Police Department

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 9:40 PM

Posted by Tom shimko

Can you not use Chicago as an example. Find another city in michigan other than Detroit. Detroit was the largest city ever to go into bankruptcy. The cities in michigan have adjusted pensions and heath care by using collective bargaining. For a 6 year period I didn’t have a raise and took other concessions. I put 8 percent of my wages into my pension. Many of us are close to retirement and a worried about our financial futures.

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 9:20 PM

Posted by Dyana

These people were promised these pensions while they were active duty and putting their lives on the line daily. Now that they are retired and collecting their promised benefits, it is time for a change? There should be nothing touched of these promised pensions and health care coverage. Your changes should be to those pensions of those currently serving so the problem doesn’t continue. Also, how about taking away the pensions of the higher up government officials that want to make changes to it.

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 12:06 PM

Posted by Dave Smith

Every Senator should be forwarded Sen Schuitmakers’ comments and challenged whether THEY truly support public safety employees or just give lip service by promising to “bolster benefits” by shifting financial obligations to those who benefits were promised. Challenge your legislators to put up or shut up about support to law enforcement!

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 11:58 AM

Posted by Peter F SECCHIA

The new bill 312,protects all firecabdbpolice from what happened in Detroit.
Since many units of government in Michigan are facing severely UNFUNDED LIABILITIES due to bad previous planning, this bill 312 protects anything like what happened to DETROIT’s POLICE AND FIRE. (THEY LOST MOST OF THEIR BENEFITS)
The UNION NEEDS TO READ THE BILL. This was first discussed over 15 years ago in THE SECCHIA COMMISSION REPORT…. and the age old tradition to “NOT TOUCH POLICE AND FIRE BENEFITS” COST THOUSANDS OF GOOD PEOPLE TO LOSE THEIR BENEFITS WHEN DETROIT WENT UNDER.
Act 312 protects those benefits and that option has benefits to be debated rather than emotional UNION LEADERSHIP TIRADES.

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 8:37 AM

Posted by Harry Valentine

Response From Governor Snyder to an EMail I sent him on retirement bills.

Dear Harry Valentine,

Thank you for your recent correspondence. Governor Snyder appreciates your time in writing and has asked that I respond directly on his behalf. Below you will find an op-ed penned by the Governor as it relates to local government retirement and benefits reform.

Michigan residents deserve the financial stability and effective delivery of local government services that help ensure their communities are strong and thriving, and retirees who have worked years for local governments deserve to know their retirement benefits will be there when they need them. But there is a problem facing some of our local governments and municipalities that threatens to crowd out these crucial services and jeopardize retiree benefits: mounting, unfunded liabilities – or in simple terms, long-term debts.

These debts are not unique to Michigan, but for many cities across the state, roughly 20 cents on the dollar go to pay this deficit. In some communities, this number is growing faster and taking up a larger percentage of what’s available in their budgets. That means 20 cents or more on every dollar is not available for direct services for residents, such as police and fire protection, and could result in the potential loss of retiree benefits in the future.

It’s a systemic problem for the nation as a whole – one rooted in unwise government practices such as the pay-as-you-go system that has been the norm for decades. Unforeseen expenses such as rising health insurance costs have also been a stressor for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) systems, which have been increasing at a much higher rate than general inflation over a long period of time. Michigan also has jurisdictions – particularly older cities – that have seen population declines or stunted growth, which means there are more retirees than active people working. In some communities, there are as many as six retirees to each active worker. With fewer employees to help cover these retiree costs, these communities become even more underfunded.

So what happens if we do nothing? Well, according to a March 2017 S&P survey of pension obligations, Chicago ranked worst among the nation’s 15 largest cities. In fiscal year 2015, 38 percent of Chicago’s total governmental fund expenditures were required pension and actual OPEB contributions – representing the highest share of all 15 cities’ budgets. Additionally, the city only made 52 percent of its annual legally required pension contribution, and money budgeted toward employee pensions in 2017 still fell short of the actuarially determined contribution levels. Chicago taxpayers have recently faced steep tax increases, with its pension problem being one of the culprits. These numbers paint a dark picture of what can happen in Michigan if we don’t make tough decisions to shore up our biggest financial woes and preserve the benefits for future generations.

Regardless of how we got here, acting on these growing liabilities now is the responsible thing to do. We can’t continue to burden Michiganders with our historic liabilities. That’s why I established a task force to get out ahead of this looming issue before it becomes a full-blown crisis. Together, legislators, state and local government officials, and employee representatives found consensus on key reforms that called for greater reporting and transparency, the development of a fiscal stress system, and new funding requirements necessary for long-term stability. The sooner a problem is identified, the sooner it can be addressed.

It’s a complex issue with no one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s one that needs our immediate attention. The time for local government retirement and benefits reform is now. As we approach the end of 2017, I will be working closely with our state’s lawmakers to pass legislation that creates a framework for a sustainable system that ensures retiree support and financial stability for Michiganders now, and for years to come.

Your ideas and suggestions are critical as these discussions continue in the Legislature. Because the Governor cannot introduce legislation, I would encourage you to contact your state legislators. State law must be made through the legislative process. Article IV, Section 22 of the Constitution of the state of Michigan of 1963, as amended, states that “all legislation shall be by bill and may originate in either house.” In the state of Michigan, the governor does not have the ability to introduce legislation. If a bill is passed by both houses in identical form, the bill is enrolled and sent to Governor Snyder’s desk. As governor, he has 14 days to make a decision on such legislation. Should any legislation make it to his desk for consideration, please know that he will keep your comments close at hand.

Thank you, again, for taking the time to share your concerns with our office. Should you have any further comments, questions or concerns regarding this or any other state-related matter, I’ve included my contact information below.

Sincerely,

Christine Nelson
Constituent Relations
Executive Office of the Governor, Rick Snyder

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 8:11 AM

Posted by Bruce R Hill

Thank You for representing the interest of first responders. We have been beat up over the last few years

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 10:16 PM

Posted by Nancy headapohl

Promises made must be kept!

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 10:00 PM

Posted by william trout

stay strong my brothers and sisters. This is just wrong what they’re doing. Promise is a promise and of course act 312 the state needs to stay out of our business.

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 8:03 PM

Posted by Harry Valentine

Today at 3pm state republicans in Lansing announced the required hearings on the retirement health care bills (Senate Bills 686 through 701 would be held at a yet to be announced location in the Capital complex. They announced the time would be at 8am tommrrow morning (12/5/17). This was done to prevent first responders from being able to witness the public hearings. If you can go show up. Transparancy, honesty, and fair dealing are not words our Lansing republicans appear to know.

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 7:09 PM

Posted by Kathryn Gallagher

Senator Schuitmaker, when I retired 23 years ago I felt secure knowing my pension and health benefit would make my remaining years comfortable . However, as I approach 80 years of age I realize that normal geriatric issues may arise and I may need my insurance more than ever. When I retired in 1995 I was given my pension and felt my income would be sufficient. That was 23 years ago and today my pension is the same as it was back then. . Thank you Senator Schuitmaker for your concern and your support.

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 7:00 PM

Posted by Daryl Tamsen

Thank you for your support. I wish more politicians thought the same way.

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 6:48 PM

Posted by Alicia stgermaine

My husband was promised a retirement package and now sime lazy Legislators want him to work the rest of his life just for health insurance? Do your jobs!
What a disgrace!!

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 5:18 PM

Posted by Kevin Ernst

Thank You Senator Schuitmaker! Thank you for your continued support for those of us who have worked our entire careers for the benefits rightfully and contractually earned and sacrificed for in good faith. We chose our challenging careers because of the security in retirement offered in return for our dedicated service. It is refreshing to know there are folks like you who know what is right, and work very hard in our state to keep us from packing up and leaving. Placing our retirements in jeopardy would leave me with no other choice. I have spoken with many other retirees who are watching carefully, but will also leave this state should this legislation pass. Thank you for your time and efforts on our behalf.

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 4:26 PM

Posted by Joseph Poirier

Thanks Senator Schuitmaker for your support of the police and fire unions.

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 3:41 PM

Posted by Vincent Moceri

Thanks for your support. Fight those who don’t care about people but just numbers
I worked for a city that looks out for the retirees by their careful handling of our retirement funds.
It’s not right to punish good cities.

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 1:41 PM

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