State Rep. Gary Glenn today voted in favor of legislation to protect public services and the retirement benefits for police, firefighters and other local government employees in Michigan.
The reforms emphasize proper reporting from local governments to pinpoint ones that may be in financial trouble due to underfunded retirement plans. The legislation mirrors recommendations from a task force assembled earlier this year by Gov. Rick Snyder.
“Our first responders put their safety on the line every single day to make sure the rest of us are safe,” Glenn, of Williams Township, said after the legislation was approved in the Michigan House. “We are taking important steps with this legislation to help ensure the benefits that have been promised to police and firefighters are available when they enter their well-deserved retirement.”
Snyder’s task force explored the critical challenges posed by Michigan’s underfunded local government employee retirement systems – which have unfunded liabilities fast approaching $20 billion.
The legislation creates a reporting system with uniform financial and accounting standards for local government retirement plans. An early detection system will help local governments and the state identify potential funding problems and act quickly to mitigate them. Communities will be vetted through a state treasurer’s fiscal impact evaluation and retirement systems will be flagged as underfunded when municipalities aren’t meeting recommended criteria to alleviate their debts.
Communities will be required to make a minimum level of payments related to retirement systems for new hires.
“By following the recommendations of the task force, we’re doing exactly what Midland Fire Chief Chris Coughlin and the city’s firefighters told us they wanted,” Glenn said. “This is an important step toward protecting their retirement benefits, and the benefits of all our dedicated public safety personnel.”
House Bill 5298 and companion bills advance to the Senate.