Possible public employee pension review has some concerned

MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Tonight, many Michigan teachers, fire fighters, and police officers are concerned about the security of their benefits.

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to look at reforming public employee pensions.

Newschannel 3 spoke with some republicans in Lansing who are breaking with the governor on the issue.

Lawmakers in Lansing are coming to a point where they are trying to push through last minute bills. During this time in years past, lawmakers have pushed through controversial legislation like right to work, and we could go down a similar path this year.

Governor Snyder says one of his priorities for the lame duck session is reforming retirement benefits for public employees.

“One of the things we have to do is look at the unfunded liabilities that we face in terms of long-term pension requirements, long term medical requirements,” said Governor Snyder.

By most estimates, the retiree health care system for city employees has created a several billion dollar hole.

After hearing the governor’s call for change, an MEA spokesman says teachers are very concerned about what reforms may get rammed through before the end of the year.

Republican State Representative Peter Lucido says his office with inundated with concerns after the governor’s announcement.

“Hundreds of emails, hundreds of phone calls, and this wasn’t staged,” said Rep. Lucido, “this was concerned individuals that said, I’ve been working for 18 years, I believed that one day when I retire there would be something there for me.”

Rep. Lucido says unfunded liabilities need to be tackled, but the state shouldn’t break its promise to workers.

“To second guess it all now and say we are going to do this is wrong,” said Rep. Lucido, “and I’m not a big fan of it, to take it away, that which somebody bargained for.”

What’s most concerning for Lucido is the talk that pension reform may get looked at in the last month of the legislative calendar.

“That’s a time when it’s hurry-hurry, rush-rush, holiday’s here,” said Rep. Lucido.

Rep. Lucido says reforming public employee pensions is too delicate of an issue to get done in one month.

During lame duck sessions, one union member told Newschannel 3 that he doesn’t trust the governor.

“He often times says one thing and does another,” said MEA Union member Frank Burger. “That’s how we got right to work. He said right to work is not on my agenda and bam- we are now, we are a right to work state here in Michigan.”

Lawmakers say they haven’t seen any specifics from the governor in terms of reforms.

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