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Michigan Teacher Pensions Undermined: Latest goal of the West Michigan Policy Forum achieved

June 16, 2017

Every two years, the West Michigan Policy Forum, which is made up of the political and economic elite in this area, proposes a state policy change.

At their 2016 conference, they made it their goal to undermine public sector  employee and teacher pensions. 

Yesterday, the Michigan House and Senate voted to do just that.

The Michigan House of Representatives voted 55 to 52 in favor of undermining public school teacher pensions. Michigan House Bill 4647 will eliminate the state-run school pension system and make new teachers hired after 2017 to shift to a defined contribution lifetime annuity or 401(k) accounts. This is a recent trend we are seeing across the country, a neoliberal capitalist model that attacks public sector workers and privatizes benefits and pensions.

At the September 2016 West Michigan Policy Forum, David Walker, with PricewaterhouseCoopers, did a major presentation for the local economic and political elite on why state teacher pensions are a liability. Interestingly enough, this is the same language that state policy makers used to undermine teacher pensions. Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township, said the state teacher pension system is an unfunded liability.

Other members of State Legislators from West Michigan that voted to undermine teacher pensions, in addition to Afendoulis (73rd District), were Tommy Brann  (77th District), Rob VerHeulen (74th District), Thomas Albert (86th District), Steve Johnson (72nd District), Roger Victory (88th District) and Daniela García (90th District).

Here is a list of major campaign contributors who are involved in the West Michigan Policy Forum:

  • Rep. Steve Johnson – Peter Secchia and Matthew Haworth
  • Rep. Chris Afendoulis – John Kennedy and the Meijer Family
  • Rep. Rob VerHeulen – John Kennedy
  • Rep. Tommy Brann – DeVos Family and Haworth Family
  • Rep. Thomas Albert – none
  • Rep. Roger Victory – Matthew Haworth
  • Rep. Daniela Garcia – DeVos Family, John Kennedy and Haworth Family

The Michigan Senate also passed a similar bill, SB 401.  The West Michigan State Senators that voted in favor of the bill were 28th Senate District, Sen. Peter MacGregor, 29th Senate District, Sen. Dave Hildenbrand and 30th Senate District, Sen. Arlan Meekhof.

Here is a list of major campaign contributors who are involved in the West Michigan Policy Forum:

  • Sen. Peter MacGregor – DeVos Family and Meijer Family
  • Sen. Dave Hildenbrand – DeVos Family and Meijer Family
  • Sen. Arlan Meekhof – DeVos Family, John Kennedy and Van Andel Family

As they say in politics, Follow the Damn Money!

[Data comes from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network]

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