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Posted on Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

Michigan Senate fails to vote on teacher pension reform

By Danielle Arndt

Previous story: Washtenaw County lawmakers divided on public school employee pension reform

A version of Senate Bill 1040 that would have struck a deal on reforming the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System died in the Senate chamber Thursday evening.

Republican leaders in the Senate didn’t have the votes to pass the legislation, which was approved in the House of Representatives earlier Thursday, so they did not bring it up for a vote, said Rep. Rick Olson.


Rick Olson

The Republican from Saline told he was “angry and disappointed,” Thursday after leaving the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, told some members of the Senate needed more time to study the bill, which was passed around 11 a.m. in the House but was not received in the Senate until about 4 p.m.

The House passed the bill 57-47.

Olson said the reason the bill was pushed through today was to give school districts some relief as they attempted to pass their budgets for fiscal year 2013. Districts have until June 30 to pass a balanced budget for the 2012-13 school year, per state law.

The House and Senate both recessed for the summer Thursday. Their next sessions are July 18. The Senate also will meet again Aug. 16.

Olson said the legislation could be resurrected in July or August, but at that point it would be too late to prevent school districts from making drastic cuts.

In the House version passed Thursday, Ann Arbor Public Schools was expected to save about $3.66 million. Saline Area Schools and Ypsilanti Public Schools would have saved $1.03 million and $777,496, respectively, according to a district-by-district analysis released Thursday.

“Because it was a Senate bill, to make it law, all the Senate would have needed to do is concur with our version of the bill,” Olson said. “There are going to be a whole bunch of schools that will be very disappointed.”

Democrats generally have opposed the bill.

"Not only does this bill break the promise made to retirees, but it is essentially another cut to classrooms, as it makes it more difficult for teachers to make ends meet," Rep. David Rutledge, D-Ypsilanti, told after the bill passed the House.

State Rep. Jeff Irwin said teachers would suffer under SB 1040.

"This bill doesn't solve the financial problems of our pension system that have been exacerbated by the privatization of public schools," he said. "Instead, SB 1040 is a backdoor pay cut for teachers that will draw even more resources out of the classroom."

Michigan school districts currently are paying about 25 percent of their payroll into the retirement system. That rate is expected to increase to about 27 percent for 2012-13, if the Senate does not act. Olson said districts should plan for the increase to 27 percent.

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

Here is some interesting reading for those interested in the dwindling number of union memberships.


Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 3:47 a.m.

The mentality of those who believe that you can force a company and then of course it's costomers to pay hagher wages by joining a union will only lead to less jobs and greater misery. We all have a choice whether to buy a product or not and make that choice all of the time. So your theory that raising wages will raise incomes for the middle class won't hold water. Your theory will artficially raise the cost of a product, reduce the demand for it, and cost jobs. Basic economics my friend.......we're in a period of resetting our lifestyles due to the excesses of the past. Many people are not taking out loans for new cars, not taking vacations, and not looking at housing as an investment anymore. The unions need to find and accept the new reality of life in this country until more people get back to work at low paying jobs and build back up from there.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

This is an important bill that will bring our teacher retirement system back to sustainability. Please do not kick this can down the road any further. Most of the peopel in this country have 401K plans because private industry found it was unsustainable. We're there and it's time to act for the future generations so we don't saddle them with debt. Our national debt might be 16 trillion but our unfunded retirement plans in this country could easily triple that...........


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

I have to agree with my friend Macabre who raises the point that retirement funding is a big problem. I wish these articles included some information on how teacher pensions are currently set up so that people making comments could determine if they are overly generous, typical or below standards. I have no idea how teacher pensions work, so how can I develop an opinion of whether or not some reform is appropriate? I do know that there are overly generous pensions out there that support Macabre's statement. Another thing I would add is that anything the legislature does can be considered "temporary," a move that can be altered, improved in the future, if Michigan business and employment thrives again. If Michigan's economy can get healthy, more can be done in the future. Until then we can only work with what we have.


Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 3:39 a.m.

@ypsiveteran - we have plenty of funds?????? Do you not read or make yourself informed. Do you not believe this country is 16 trillion in debt not including pension obligations? Or do you want to pretend it isn't? Ask the school boards if they have the funds to honor these commitments. The Federal government pays pensions out of it's cash flow, it borrows 40% of what it spends, so by definition it does not have the funds to honor it's commitments. That's why it continues to borrow. When you borrow money you are at the mercy of the lender, you should understand that I would think.............We will become Greece from a financial standpoint in the not too distant future, many more people will lose their jobs, jour kids and grandkids will suffer greatly as will mine because of the inability to pull back on spending, and this will create great social unrest. We need to pull together as a nation while our politicians try to divide us for their agendas but it's not looking too good.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

So Mike, the "details" of what these pensions involve don't matter, but you want your solution to be considered credible? Your declaration that "we" as a country don't have the funds to honor our commitments is blatantly false. We have plenty of funds; we are, however, spending them on other things. The problem with your post is the problem the legislature has, only on a much larger scale. Everyone has an ideology, but very, very few have informed, researched opinions or solutions based on facts and not politics or expediency.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

To begin with most in the private sector do not have pensions any longer because they are not sutainable given our demographics. Secondly we, as a country, do not have the funds to honor the pensions we have promised everybody; we borro .40 of every dollar we spend and that is rising exponentially. You can start with those two facts and then drill down into the details if that really matters..............

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Public employee pensions and benefits are beginning to bankrupt entire states. We see the end-game in Greece, where people promised a pension will soon have absolutely nothing. It's time to craft a compromise, before it's too late. Too many years where unions with professional negotiators were having their way with inexperienced local government officials who wanted to give more than they had.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Sh, some teachers "bargaining units" are just a couple teachers, and that's it. Many teachers' unions are not affiliated with bigger groups. That said, teachers aren't the problem in my opinion, administrators and school boards are, and so is 40 years of the spectacularly failed policy of "mainstreaming" all students, regardless of their emotional and/or behavioral disabilities.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

Teachers' unions don't hire "professional negotiators." Their teams are made up district staff and a union rep.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

You think maybe ALL of these problems are a result of the 1.8 billion $ cuts to education last year? REMEMBER!!! (transferred to business for more jobs) Not working the way you thought ?


Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

It just took effect in March. You have to give it more time than 3 months.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 11:20 a.m.

Reasoning somewhere in these comments that I do not understand: hurt teachers and help schools. My experience tells me that good schools require good teachers. How do we attract good people to a profession when we hurt that profession? Just wondering.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 10:09 a.m.

Why would every liberal be against a funding bill that helps save schools? I wonder if it's because the teachers Union has invested so heavily in the liberal ways.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

BS3, I was responding to your name-calling of liberals, not claiming to have a solution because it's a complex problem. But I believe you are avoiding my question.

The Black Stallion3

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 11:29 a.m.

Your solution sh1?


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

I'd like BS3 to tell us several ways liberals are only interested in themselves. Liberals are often called socialists, too, and I don't think you can have it both ways.

andy kelly

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 10:33 a.m.

"Oh Please......stop bellyaching about anything you disagree with,,,,,think positive," - kinda sucks when it is turned back on you - right!

The Black Stallion3

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 10:19 a.m.

I think liberals are against anything that will help everyone, they are only interested in themselves.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 2:39 a.m.

Of course the legislature failed to address the problems of school funding in this state, including waste and mismanagement at the district level. They are too busy trying to legislate public morality, restrict access to legal medical procedures and codify discrimination under the guise of "religious" freedom.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

I agree with stallion. Think positive. I positively think that the current state legislature and executiver are horrible. I positively hope that the leg. will be booted out this November and people put in there who will concentrate on turning around our economy and getting JOBS for the people of this state. I positively can't stand these "legislators" who think that their most important job is to prevent things that are unconstitutional under our laws from happening (Shariah law taking over the nation, for one), or to overturn on a state level actions that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared to be constitutional rights, and so forth. It positively makes me sick.

The Black Stallion3

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 10:10 a.m.

Oh Please......stop bellyaching about anything you disagree with,,,,,think positive,


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

Funny to hear Olson talking about school finance given his record of running school districts into the ground under his 'leadership'. Failed leadership. The good news is that he's not running again (another failure) and we can get something other than an ideologic rubber stamp representing us.

Dithering Ninny

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 12:39 a.m.

Balas will not be any smarter with a few million less, neither will the kids. This isnt a 'bad' bill, it wasn't 'good' either. Just a cost shifter. Now each disctrict will have to negotiate additional pay cuts individually to make up the shortfall. Sadly, you can cut more...but it will only hurt the kids, and the waste will continue


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 12:32 a.m.

Kudos Jeff....L Brooks was wrong about you, you are becoming a real political player with these kinda statements "This bill doesn't solve the financial problems of our pension system that have been exacerbated by the privatization of public schools," However, you forgot to finish your sentence with "Check Please"