Rep. Yaroch votes to safeguard retirement benefit plans for first responders

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State Representative Jeff Yaroch of Richmond today voted in favor of a bill package protecting retirement benefits for police, firefighters and other local government employees.

“Our first responders work hard protecting their communities and we need to protect the benefits they were promised,” said Yaroch, a former firefighter/paramedic of over 25 years. “We need to be diligent in setting a path that properly funds the benefits that were promised, while being accountable and transparent to the taxpayer. All the stakeholders must come together to understand the scope of the problems and find a way forward for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.”

The new proposal will act as an initial detection method, stressing transparency and proper reporting from local governments each year to identify those who are financially troubled. Municipalities failing to meet recommended criteria to alleviate their debts will be flagged as underfunded and tasked with solving the problem. The reporting system follows specific recommendations of a bipartisan task force assembled by Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this year.

Communities will be required to make a minimum level of payments related to retirement systems for new hires.

“This is not just about what local government has done,” said Yaroch. “State government needs to be a better partner with local government by fulfilling its broken promises of funding, stopping the unfunded mandates and addressing archaic requirements that make local government inefficient. We need to keep the promises that we have made to police officers, firefighters and other public employees for the work that they do. That’s the right thing to do.”

House Bill 5298 and its components advanced to the Senate for further consideration.