Push to eliminate lifetime health care benefits for Michigan lawmakers gains steam
A proposal to eliminate lifetime health care benefits for Michigan state legislators is gaining traction in Lansing.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Pam Byrnes, D-Lyndon Twp., said it's time for legislators to give up their lifetime health care benefits, which start at age 55 for lawmakers with at least six years of experience.
Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing to end benefits for all state legislators, past and present, who have lifetime health care benefits.
"In this difficult economy, everyone is getting by with less and lawmakers need to share in this sacrifice," Byrnes said in a statement. "Our legislators' health care should be comparable to other Michigan workers. None of our hard-working residents get taxpayer-funded health care for life after working only six years. In fact, many workers across the state have had their health care benefits slashed or cut completely after decades of service to their employers. Michigan taxpayers should not be asked to foot the bill for these outrageous benefits."
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop told the Detroit Free Press that his party would support slashing the insurance benefits for future legislators, but not current or former lawmakers.
Ann Arbor venture capitalist Rick Snyder, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, released a statement supporting the elimination of lifetime health care benefits for legislators.
“Getting rid of the exclusive perk of lifetime health benefits for legislators would be a rare but welcome display of leadership in the midst of declining revenues and shortfalls in state government. Difficult decisions need to be made to reduce compensation costs for state employees to bring them in line with the private sector," Snyder said.
"Not only should Lansing’s career politicians get rid of their lifetime benefits, but they ought to make additional cuts into their own salaries and budgets. If our schools, public safety, local governments, businesses and families are forced to make do with less, career politicians should do the same.“