Executive Director’s April Blog Post: Whatever happened to trusting the Legislature?

We recently sent out a very short survey asking our members their thoughts on Proposal 1. While MARSP supports the Proposal, we also recognize our members are independent thinkers and ultimately make their own decisions when it comes to casting their votes.

The results of the survey were generally what I expected. About 44 percent support the Proposal; about 33 percent oppose it; and the final 23 percent remain undecided. My guess is ultimately the proportions will remain consistent and about 57 percent of our membership will support Proposal 1 while about 43 percent will oppose it.

To me, the most interesting finding comes from the comments made by those undecided and opposed to the Proposal. By a wide margin, both groups indicated their greatest concern is a lack of trust in the Legislature to follow through on the commitments Proposal 1 promises.

The lack of trust should greatly concern the Legislature as well as the leadership of both parties. We have come to a point where most of the public simply do not trust our elected officials to be honest with us on anything.

The continued political bickering and one-upmanship of politics makes the public wish they would all just go away. It’s a sad commentary on our politicians, all of them!

Each party says they are the “honest” ones. Meanwhile they send out their talking heads with talking points that rarely tell the full story and more often than not accuse the other party of telling lies. By the way, is a half-truth being honest? I know when it came to my children, the whole truth was the only thing I found acceptable and I know my parents wouldn’t have ever let me get away with a half-truth.

Maybe therein lies the answer to the whole trust issue. Politicians would be well served to consider how trust is built: When we, the voting public ask for the whole story from politicians, we expect to get the whole story. Anything less creates more mistrust and the real possibility that those politicians will have to be grounded from playing with their friends.

Detroit News take on MEA exec pension deal

In her Detroit News column March 20 regarding Steven Cook’s pension deal, Ingrid Jacques implies that all public school employees and retirees have “sweetheart, six-figure pensions” from the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System.  With about 400,000 active employees and retirees, the current average retiree benefit is about $20,000 and the average salary for active employees is about $40,000. In addition to teachers, those employees and retirees are bus drivers, maintenance workers and support personnel.

A payout of $100,000 in benefits is rare. Although the Detroit News takes issue with Mr. Cook’s income and retirement benefits, both were negotiated in good faith.  In today’s world, such negotiated deals are not typical.

Michigan Supreme Court upholds law on teacher pensions

By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press 12:55 a.m. EDT April 9, 2015

The Michigan Supreme Court, rejecting arguments from unions, has upheld a 2012 state law requiring teachers to put more of their pay toward their pension plans or face cuts to benefits.

LANSING – The Michigan Supreme Court, rejecting arguments from unions, has upheld a 2012 state law requiring teachers and other school employees to put more of their pay toward their pension plans or face cuts to benefits such as post-retirement health care.

The 6-0 ruling upheld a January 2014 ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals and an earlier ruling by an Ingham County Circuit Court judge. Only the court’s newest member, Justice Richard Bernstein, did not participate in the decision.

“We hold that the act does not violate any provision of either the Michigan constitution or the United States Constitution,” wrote Justice Stephen Markman.

The law, backed by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature, was intended to cut an estimated $45-billion unfunded liability in the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System by more than $15 billion.

Under the law, school employees hired before 1990 — who were paying nothing toward retirement — must contribute 4% of their pay or have their benefits cut. Those hired from 1990 to June 2010 must pay 7% to keep their pensions intact. Previously, they paid 3% to 6.4%.

Those hired since the middle of 2010 are in a 401(k)-type pension plan and aren’t affected by the law.

In 2012 lawmakers also ended employer-provided health care for new hires, and instead gave them a match of up to 2% in their 401(k), plus a lump sum upon retirement to pay for health insurance. Current retirees must pay at least 20% of their medical premiums.

The American Federation of Teachers and the Michigan Education Association unions argued the law impaired contracts and amounted to uncompensated takings of pension benefits.

But both the Michigan Supreme Court and the appeals court said the law doesn’t violate a Michigan constitutional provision protecting earned pension benefits, because only future benefits are affected. Also, unlike an earlier law that mandated 3% contributions toward health care, the 2012 law provides an opt-out provision, the court said.

Markman said the court is “not oblivious to the fact” many teachers consider the changes “unfair and unsatisfactory.” But he said “decisions concerning the allocation of public resources will often leave some parties disappointed,” and changes should be pursued through the Legislature, not the courts.

The courts earlier struck down a 2010 law which required teachers to put 3% of their pay toward retirement costs but included no opt-out provision.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.

Press Release: MARSP supports Proposal 1

State’s largest school retiree group supports Proposal 1

The Proposal 1 campaign earned a potential boost from 45,000 likely voters this week as the Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel (MARSP) agreed to support the measure, which will go before voters on May 5.

“In addition to the obvious need to improve our infrastructure across the state, the proposal will have a direct impact on education,” says Mark Guastella, MARSP executive director. “If passed, the measure will generate $292 million for the School Aid Fund. That will help strengthen the education system and improve education outcomes for students.”

The ballot initiative would increase the state sales tax 1 percent and repeal the sales tax on gasoline, while at the same time increasing the gas tax and adjusting it annually for inflation. It also directs school aid funding to K-12 and community colleges, rather than higher education.

The initiative would generate at least $1.2 billion for roads, bridges and other transportation needs. Local governments would receive $94 million and lower income individuals would receive tax relief of roughly $260 million through a full restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“We’re encouraging our membership of retired teachers, support personnel and administrators to vote in May,” says Robert Wiles, MARSP president, “and we’re providing information so that they can make an informed decision. We believe that a Yes vote is the best answer to bring Michigan’s roads and bridges back to a high standard of quality and safety.”

MARSP Legislative Committee takes action on legislation

The MARSP Legislative Committee recently took action on the following legislation:

MARSP opposes SB 102, which would close out the MPSERS defined benefit plan to new hires, with the following rationale:

This bill would amend MPSERS Act to require that public school employees hired after July 1, 2015 no longer have a choice between a Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution plan. They will only have the option of a Defined Contribution plan. MARSP opposes this bill as MARSP opposes any legislation that removes members from paying into the MPSERS system. In addition, MARSP opposes this bill as it would also force school personnel to become financial managers of their own retirement accounts. Most school employees are not trained financial managers and will not be able to equitably fund their retirement in a defined contribution plan alone, due to excessive administrative costs and loss of value from the pooling of assets in a defined benefit plan. This legislation would also negatively impact the interest of those who would choose a career in the education field.

MARSP supports the May ballot proposal to increase the state sales tax from 6 to 7 percent and provide additional funding for schools and local municipalities with the following rationale:

The May ballot proposal not only provides needed road funding, which benefits our members as a whole, but also provides approximately $300 million in additional funding for schools. This will positively impact our members by strengthening the Retirement System by freeing up revenue to reduce the unfunded liability and providing additional per pupil funding.

Also, with the current legislative climate in mind, please keep an eye on the MARSP website for important breaking legislative updates should any of the bills we are watching begin to move through the legislature.

 

MARSP Area Conference Schedule

Please view the Local Chapter Directory  to access specific local chapter information including area conference meeting details and contact information regarding reservations.

Chapter Name Date Time Location
Michigan Chapters
Allegan 4/16/2015 12:00 PM Allegan County Area Technical and Education Center
Alpena 5/14/2015
Baraga 5/12/2015 11:30 AM Baraga Lakeside Inn
Barry 5/20/2015
Bay Area 5/11/2015 11:00 AM Lumber Baron’s
Berrien 4/14/2015 11:00 AM Pebblewood Golf Course
Blue Water 5/13/2015 9:30 AM St. Clair County RESA
Branch 3/10/2015 11:55 AM United Methodist Church
Calhoun 4/13/2015 12:00 PM St Paul’s Lutheran Church
Cass 4/14/2015 9:00 AM Cass County Council on Aging
Cheboygan 5/13/2015 12:00 PM Cheboygan
Chippewa-Mackinac 5/20/2015 11:00 AM Lake Superior State University’s Cisler Center
Clare 5/5/2015
Clinton 4/13/2015 5:00 PM Clinton County RESA
Crawford-Oscoda 5/20/2015 12:00 PM Mio United Methodist Church
Delta 5/4/2015 12:00 PM Memorial United Methodist Church, Gladstone
Dickinson 5/21/2015 10:30 AM Pine Grove Country Club
Emmet 5/28/2015 9:00 AM Bay View Inn
Genesee 5/14/2015 10:00 AM Flint Area School Employees Credit Union
Genesee – West 5/5/2015
Genesee-Southeast 5/13/2015 10:00 AM Atlas Valley Country Club
Gladwin 5/18/2015 9:30 AM
Grand Traverse 5/12/2015 12:30 PM West Bay Beach Resort Holiday   Inn
Gratiot 4/14/2015
Hillsdale County 3/12/2015 12:00 PM Hillsdale County ISD
Houghton Keweenaw 5/4/2015
Huron 4/24/2015 11:00 AM Huron Area Tech Center
Ingham – Greater Lansing 4/16/2015
Ionia 4/16/2015 11:30 AM Ionia County Community Mental Health
Iosco-Alcona 5/21/2015 10:30 AM IRESA Educational Center
Iron 5/12/2015 11:00 AM Paint River Landing
Isabella 5/5/2015 12:00 PM Commission on Aging
Jackson 4/21/2015 11:30 AM First United Methodist Church
Kalamazoo 4/7/2015 11:30 AM Fetzer Center
Kent 4/20/2015 10:00 AM St Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Lapeer 4/20/2015 12:00 PM Lapeer County Center Building
Leelanau 5/20/2015 12:00 PM The Bluebird Restaurant and Bar
Livingston 5/21/2015 11:15 AM Howell Parks and Recreation
Macomb East 4/30/2015 8:30 AM Macomb ISD
Macomb North 4/30/2015 9:00 AM Macomb ISD
Manistee 5/11/2015 11:30 AM Bungalow Inn
Manistee 5/11/2015 11:30 AM Bungalow Inn
Marquette 5/6/2015 12:00 PM Negaunee Senior Center
Mason Lake 4/16/2015 9:30 AM Ludington Methodist Church
Mecosta-Canadian Lakes 5/28/2015 10:00 AM Alpine Haus
Menominee 5/7/2015
Midland 4/8/2015 12:00 PM Midland Community Center
Monroe 5/21/2014 11:30 AM Monroe County Community College
Monroe South 5/21/2014 11:30 AM Monroe County Community College
Montcalm 5/13/2015 12:00 PM Winter Inn
Muskegon 5/5/2015 Sons of Norway Hall
Newaygo 5/12/2015 12:00 PM First Methodist church
Oakland – Farmington 5/12/2015
Oakland – North 5/12/2015 9:00 AM St. George Cultural Center
Oakland – Suburban 5/12/2015 9:00 AM St. George Cultural Center
Oceana 5/18/2015 Hart United Methodist Church
Ogemaw 5/1/2015 11:00 AM Lumber Jack Restaurant
Osceola 5/5/2015 10:00 AM St. Paul Lutheran Church
Ottawa 4/29/2015 11:30 AM Boatwerks
Presque Isle 5/18/2015 10:00 AM Onaway Methodist Church
Saginaw 5/20/2015 1:00 PM Hellenic Center
Sanilac 5/20/2015 12:00 PM Liberty Lanes Bowling Alley & Restaurant
Schoolcraft 4/8/2015
Shiawassee 5/11/2015 1:00 PM St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
St. Joseph 5/11/2015 12:00 PM St. Joe Co ISD
Tuscola County 4/15/2015 11:00 AM The Brentwood
Van Buren 4/14/2015 9:00 AM Cass County Council on Aging
Washtenaw 5/13/2015 11:00 AM Weber’s Inn
Wayne – Detroit 4/10/2015
Wayne – Downriver 3/16/2015 12:00 PM Orlando’s in Riverview
Wayne – Metro 5/21/2015 10:00 AM Dearborn Hills Golf Course
Wayne – Northwest 4/8/2015 11:00 AM St. Mary’s Cultural Center
Wexford-Missaukee 5/21/2015 9:30 AM Wexford-Missaukee Career Tech
Out-of-State Chapters
AZ – Tucson/Green Valley Chapter 3/2/2015 9:00 AM Hilton Garden Inn – Airport
CO – Colorado 5/7/2015
FL – Char-Sota 3/10/2015 9:30 AM Olde World Restaurant
FL – Greater Daytona 3/19/2015 Red Lobster in Daytona
FL – Heartland 3/10/2015 10:30 AM Avon Park Public Library
FL- Lee County 3/17/2015
FL – Southwest Gulf Coast 3/19/2015 11:30 AM North Naples United Methodist Church
FL – Space Coast 3/5/2015
FL – St. Petersburg 3/9/2015 11:30 AM Unity Church of Palm Harbor
FL – Suncoast 3/26/2015
FL – Treasure Coast 3/9/2015 11:30 AM Maneros
TN – East Tennessee 5/6/2015 9:00 AM
TX – Dallas/Fort Worth 4/12/2015 2:30 PM Phyllis Burton-Jenkin’s home

Important information for renewing membership online

The MARSP website is now available for online joins and renewals.  If you are renewing, you will need to log in to your account to access your renewal information.  The username login refers to your email address and the password must be entered in ALL CAPS. The default password is the first letter of your first name and your entire last name (e.g. JSMITH) in ALL CAPS. You may also use the “Lost Password” feature to retrieve your password.

Please note: If you are a lifetime member of the state MARSP organization and need to renew only your chapter dues, you will need to call the MARSP office at 517-337-1757.

Thank you for your support of MARSP as we work to maintain and improve benefits for all Michigan public school retirees.

Join MARSP

Renew Membership

MARSP Foundation Scholarship Application

MARSP Foundation Scholarship Application

The MARSP Foundation Scholarship Application is to be received by the Chief Executive Officer between January 1 and April 1 for the fiscal year of July 1-June 30. Eligibility: Any current employee of any public school which reports to MPSERS (Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System) may receive a scholarship grant for any and all educational endeavors available from, but not limited to, a four-year degree granting institution of higher learning, a community college, a technical or vocational institution within the state of Michigan, or seminars/workshops offered by any legally established professional organization from within the state of Michigan. It is expected that the recipient will agree to continue to work in a Michigan public sector educational institution for at least one year following the date of the completion of the training. Withdrawal from the program prior to completion may result in a loss of funding. The grant shall not exceed $1,000.00. Disbursement of all scholarship funds (tuition and materials) shall be made directly to the institution or professional organization up to the amount of the scholarship award. *The IRS requires your social security number to receive this scholarship. You will be required to submit this information upon being awarded a scholarship.
  • *Scholarship funds are not disbursed before July 1st of the year awarded.
  • Please include an informal letter enabling the selection committee to become acquainted with you as an individual. Include information such as: long-range professional/ vocational goals and plans, personal attributes, need for financial assistance, how this course will help you in your current job or future advancement, how you became aware of this scholarship. Please conclude with a statement certifying that the information in this application is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge and belief.