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DeVos Political Operative Greg McNeilly is also promoting the West Michigan Policy Forum’s scheme for road funding by using teacher pension funds

July 19, 2019

Last week, we posted an article about a proposal from the West Michigan Policy Forum to borrow money from the Michigan Teachers Pension Fund and use it to pay for the roads throughout the state. 

We stated the following:

First, in 2016, the West Michigan Policy Forum was backing legislation that would remove the decades-long contractual agreement between the State of Michigan and the teacher union to remove the state as the primary source to pay teacher pensions and transfer that responsibility to the market.  That legislation was adopted, which means the traditional pensions have been eliminated in terms of how they get paid and are replaced with 401k-type plans leaving the teacher pensions in the hands of the speculative capital market. At the time, the Michigan Education Association 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.” 

Second, the West Michigan Policy Forum has not been shy about their efforts to undermine unions, such as the 2016 legislation to attack the teacher unions and more recently, their push to undermine public sector unions, by calling health care benefits and pensions of government employees “unfunded mandates” as well.

Therefore, what Chase Bolger and the West Michigan Policy Forum is now proposing, is to take money from the Teacher Pension Fund (money that was previously guaranteed by the State and now is placed in the speculative capital market) and place that in the speculative capital market in order to make money to pay for the roads. Not only does the West Michigan Policy Forum see the speculative capital markets as the financial savior of us all, they are ultimately interested in pushing Neo-Liberal economic austerity measures in order to weaken the public sector.

Now, the West Michigan Policy Forum is pushing the same idea, which their friend and fellow DeVos-operative Greg McNeilly proposed in an opinion piece in the Detroit News

McNeilly was the campaign manager for the failed gubernatorial campaign of Dick DeVos in 2006. He is also a board member of Great Lakes Education Project (created by Betsy DeVos) and is the Chief Operating Officer of the DeVos run Windquest Group.

McNeilly, who once said that the wealthy people who contribute large amounts to elections should be applauded for their efforts. McNeilly also called rich people funding candidates, “the most protected form of speech.” 

In his opinion piece, McNeilly also referred to teacher pensions as an “unfunded liability,” which is essentially code for, “we don’t like unions,” even though teacher pensions have been honored for decades by states across the country.

In addition, McNeilly also states:

One important detail that’s important to remember, using pension obligation bonds represents a pension- and classroom-funding plan more than a road-funding plan. The $980 million in additional cash flow per year would be in the state’s school aid fund, offsetting the $540 million that could be moved from the current sales tax on gasoline into roads, and providing another $440 million on top of that each year that could be spent to either further pay down teacher pension debt or poured directly into Michigan classrooms.

McNeilly is not only endorsing the idea that the West Michigan Policy Forum has put forth, he is willing to use money from the Teacher Pension Fund to invest in the market in order to pay for the roads. In other words, the DeVos political operative is willing to gamble with teacher pension funds to pay for the roads, while at the same time continuing to promote neoliberal economic policies in the state, which has eliminated a business tax and gives greater control to the 1 percent, like McNeilly’s boss, the DeVos Family. Sounds like a solid plan, doesn’t it?

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