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West Michigan Policy Forum Endorsed Legislation seeks to eliminate Public School Teacher Pensions in Michigan

November 30, 2016

It is possible that before the end of the year, the Michigan Legislature might push through a bill that will effectively end public school teacher pensions.screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-9-00-40-am

We wrote about this issue in September, when the major policy issue that the right-wing West Michigan Policy Forum made ending public sector employee pensions the main issue to get passed in Michigan. 

The West Michigan Policy Forum has been instrumental in getting several state policies passed since their inception in 2008, such as making Michigan a Right to Work state, eliminating the business tax and now they are calling for the end of public school teacher pensions.

The proposed legislation, known as HB-5218 in the House and SB 102 in the Senate would eliminate traditional pensions and replace it with 401k-type plans allowing investment firms to make billions managing them. The Michigan Education Association has stated that, “This is a nation-wide attack, led by Enron billionaire Tom Arnold, whose Arnold Foundation is flooding right wing think tanks across the nation with funding to do this work. The Enron meltdown cost public pension funds $1.5 billion in losses.”  

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In Michigan, the West Michigan Policy Forum and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has been pushing the same message, which is all in the name of fiscal responsibility. “Fiscal responsibility,” is really just code for austerity measures and ultimately an attempt to break unions.

The recent announcement from the the Trump camp that Betsy DeVos has agreed to be the Secretary of Education in his administration, provides even more momentum, since Betsy DeVos and the DeVos family has made the dismantling of public education a priority for years. Many of the Michigan legislators who have backed both the House and the Senate version of the bill are endorsed by the DeVos run Great Lakes Education Project. 

Various organization, particularly unions are attempting to prevent the Michigan Legislature from making this happen. The Michigan AFL-CIO has sent out an action alert, asking people to sign this petition. 

However, it will take more than petitions to stop this Neoliberal plan to undermine teacher pensions. The unions and their supporters will need to engage in various forms of direct action if they are to put a stop to ongoing class warfare being wage by the Republicans and their Democratic Party collaborators. 

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