A Michigan English teacher at Saginaw Township Community School District is upset that she won't be able to retire at 47 as she had previously planned if SB 1040, introduced by Senator Kahn last month and current in the Senate Appropriations Committee, becomes law. It will require public school employees to contribute a minimum of 5% of their compensation to their retirement plan and be 60 before receiving health care benefits. This means that instead of another 3 years of service the 44 year old teacher will have to work another 16 years in order to be eligible for health benefits.
Terri List was one of the critics of the bill highlighted by the Michigan Education Association.
"By the time I'm 60, I would have put in 43 years of service, earning a salary at the top of the pay scale. How does that save the district money? You could hire two people for the cost of one and encourage young people to join the profession. Right now, I would not recommend to my pupils to become a teacher in Michigan."
Michael Van Beek of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy pointed out that Ms List's math only made sense if she had bought âyears of service' instead of completing them all and that this practice is essentially extinct in the private sector.
Although many of the people testifying before the Senate Appropriations Retirement Subcommittee claimed that the proposed bill was unfair and an unjustified attack on school employee retirement benefits, many interested parties outside the profession were stunned by the criticisms. Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance said:
"Wow. They have reached the politicians' level of entitlement," Drolet said. "She thinks she is entitled to retire at 47? Holy smokes. I don't know what more to say to that. A government employee thinking that 47 is a reasonable expectation to retire shows just how deep inside their own bubble they live, insulated from the real world."
While Charles Owens, Michigan chapter president of the National Federation of Independent Businesses remarked that Ms List was indeed correct:
"If you want to retire if you are 47, apparently teaching is not the place to go,"
The Subcommittee meets again April 19th and the bill is said to be on the fast track with hopes of it being completed before June.