Rep. Meerman Headshot
Rep. Meerman votes to defend the teacher pension fund while Democrats gamble with Michigan’s future
RELEASE|June 25, 2024
Contact: Luke Meerman

State Rep. Luke Meerman voted against legislation passed by House Democrats today to divert resources that were intended to pay down teacher retirement debt, a move that could jeopardize Michigan’s state finances.

House Bill 5803 would reduce contributions to the health care system for retired school employees, instead of allowing health care savings to go toward paying down pension debt. The overall retirement system still owes more than $30 billion in unfunded liabilities.

“Democrats’ latest scheme has them pillaging public-teacher’s retirement accounts to fund frivolous government expansions and unnecessary programs,” Meerman said. “The state budget is $80 billion and Democrats are robbing Peter to pay Paul so they can give even more taxpayer dollars to their friends and interest groups. This will create a mess for the next generation to clean-up.”

Meerman said Republicans have prioritized paying down pension liabilities and put Michigan on the path to stability. But now, Democrats are seeking to interrupt scheduled debt payments, while also relying on an income tax hike, to pay for their spending.

“Raiding the teacher pension fund is flat out irresponsible,” Meerman said. “Don’t be fooled: Robbing the teacher pension fund threatens the viability of teachers’ retirements, and taxpayers will pay the price if these debts can’t be paid in years or decades to come. I cannot support this bill that gambles with hardworking teachers’ retirement plans.”

Last year, Meerman introduced a bill that would have paid down the MPSERS debt by $1 billion using a portion of the state’s historic budget surplus that totaled nearly $9 billion. The Office of Retirement Services estimated that a MPSERS payment of that size would have saved taxpayers $1.5 billion overall. Meerman was a strong advocate for paying down the debt so that more money could go directly toward educating students. Unfortunately, his proposal never gained any attention from Democrats in majority.

Despite Meerman and other Republicans’ objections, HB 5803 advanced to the Senate, as legislative Democrats and the governor seek to finalize their raid on the teacher pension fund as part of the budget they’re expected to pass this week.


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