Forced Retirement ~ Teachers in Michigan ~ 30 plus years – Make the call

The most common statement I’ve heard from colleagues that have retired before me was “You’ll know when you’re ready to retire”. Well, guess what? I’m not feeling it.

Thanks to the wonderful, and benevolent Governor Granholm, governor of the State of Michigan, and Budget Director, Bob Emerson, I just may not have a choice. My opinion, idiotic. Putting a bandaid on a leaking dyke.

I have 32 years in as a state employee. I’ve never been in this profession for the money, I’ve been teaching because I love my job, and I know I’ve made a difference in so many children’s lives. As I’ve approached the time I am able to retire, sure….I was happy that I could look forward to a nice pension. I feel I’ve earned it. But now, it looks like, whether I’m ready or not, I HAVE to retire. I’m being forced out, ready or not.

What happens if I stay?
I flip into a new “hybrid” retirement plan. HYBRID? Now we’re being compared to cars that run on both corn and petrol? It will be a plan with some* of the old and most* of the new plan.

I risk losing 5% of my annual pay, get taxed an additional 3% to help pay for a retirement, and then, essentially be responsible for paying for my own retirement. Now, wait? Haven’t I been working for this all my life?

I also would have to purchase my own dental and vision care.

So you say, if you dont’ want to quit, then stay. With the above, I lose.

So why do you feel you have to retire then, you say? Well, this way I get to keep my dental and vision care, my retirement pension would be about 51% of my current income, which is pretty good as far as retirement goes.

So why dont’ I feel I can retire? My husband has NO income whatsoever, no pension, no social security, nada, nothing. I have a daughter finishing up her 2nd year of college with 3 to go. It would be nice to be able to help her out when I can, but if I retire, I won’t be able to.

I did a pretend retirement calculator, and it said I would have to save “billions” this year to make it the rest of my life comfortably.

I think I need to move to a deserted island and just waste away and not be a burden to anyone.

Jeesh, I hate this budget.

How about grandfathering those of us with 30 or more years in, change it for those that are younger so they actually have time to save for retirement, and allow us with 30 or more years to decide when to leave ourselves?

So what happens to almost 10000 state employees, most being teachers, when they are forced to retire? They have to find jobs, and we all know that isn’t going to be in Michigan. We have the highest unemployment rate in the nation and people have been leaving Michigan in droves for a few years now for employment. So now, those employees that are forced to retire, will leave this fine state to teach somewhere else. They will draw their pension from Michigan, and work in another state, and hopefully put in 5-10 more years and draw another pension, from yet another state.

Let’s see, I’d be 60 in 5 years, and 65 in 10. Not really what I was looking at, but it might be an option.

I just don’t see how Governor Granholm figures that losing citizens from Michigan will help save the state money, while concurrently losing revenue? I’m not an extremely intelligent woman when it comes to finances, but even I can see that number.

The current budget recommendation coming to a vote is under attack, by the constituents. According to the MEA website:

Despite constant polling results that say the public wants a balanced solution to the state budget crisis, Gov. Jennifer Granholm is joining the chorus of short-sighted politicians in Lansing calling for more cuts targeted at public employees and their families.

This time the political target is public employee retirement plans. For school employees in particular, the governor wants all employees to increase their retirement contributions by 3 percent, up to a cap of 6.9 percent. She also wants to cap service credit at 30 years and eliminate dental and vision insurance for new retirees starting in October. And she is pushing a tiny early retirement incentive to move veteran employees out of the system. You can read the details of Granholm’s plan in a memo from State Budget Director Bob Emerson.

Gov. Granholm, along with Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, need to take a step back and think about why Michigan voters are angry. It isn’t because a half a million public employees earn enough to have a middle class lifestyle or retire somewhere above the poverty line. It isn’t because the billions of dollars in concessions made by public employees aren’t enough.

It’s because voters are sick and tired of the political games and gimmicks that still haven’t solved our decade-long budget crisis.

Instead of more politically motivated nonsolutions, some are proposing real reforms. MEA is a coalition member of A Better Michigan Future, a group proposing four simple reforms to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share as we fix the broken tax structure that has caused the past decade of cuts. It’s time for real reforms and common sense changes — auditing government contracts and tax incentives for efficiency, closing corporate tax loopholes, expanding the sales tax to some services, and implementing a graduated income tax that would result in a tax cut for 90 percent of Michigan families.

Those are changes that make sense. But adding taxes just for public employees — which is exactly what both Granholm’s 3 percent retirement increase and Bishop’s 5 percent pay cut are — are senseless stunts that aren’t supported by the 3 out of 4 voters who don’t want more cuts to schools, public safety, health care and other basic services that our leaders in Lansing continue to target.

It’s time to say enough is enough. Contact Gov. Granholm today and tell her to withdraw these attacks on half a million Michigan families. Tell her to reject the flawed concept that continuing to take from public employees will fix our flawed tax structure. Tell her to show real leadership and call for implementing the balanced solution proposed by A Better Michigan Future. And share that message with your state representative and senator as well.

So make the call will ya?


Memo from State Budget Director Bob Emerson

Additional information about the retirement incentive plan will be posted on the Office of Retirement Services Web site at


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s