McBain Educators Concerned About State Bill Proposing New Michigan Teacher Retirement System

The state is proposing a new Michigan teacher retirement system, a plan that has Northern Michigan public schools concerned.

Governor Snyder and legislative leaders agreed on a proposal to reform the retirement plan into more of a 401k plan instead of a pension.

Currently teachers starting before 2010 have had a pension plan, while teachers starting after 2010 have had a choice between a 401k and a hybrid pension plan.

9&10’s Taylor Jones looked into the latest proposal and spoke with educators.

The new proposal will give teachers the option to choose a new 401k plan or a new hybrid pension system.

But educators feel these more expensive options will drive away new teachers.

“It’s just not as lucrative financially for a potential school employee that retires, and with that said, I can’t see how this is going to be encouraging to new employees or new teachers to come into teaching,” says Joel Bronkema, principal of Mcbain High School.

Educators at McBain, concerned that a new 401k plan will shy away teachers.

“It will be four percent given by the school, then the employee can choose to have a three percent contribution on their own, which will then be matched,” says Bronkema.

Teachers could choose a new hybrid pension system, but the state plans to ask for a bigger contribution from school employees, driving them to choose the 401k plan.

But educators feel both options don’t support retired teachers as well as a pension would, making it that much harder to find teachers.

“We already can’t get substitute teachers and we can see us having a really hard time getting math teachers, science teachers, special education teachers that are already very difficult to employ and with not having more benefits and more opportunities,” says Bronkema.

The state feels this plan could save some money.

Teachers worry this plan could drive away new teachers.

“I think if you look at the public sector in general, I think that seems to be an easy target for legislators to take some money away. If was going into education right now, I would probably be deterrent. I’d probably look more toward the private sector,” says Shawn Murphy, McBain high school teacher.

Legislative committees approved the bills steering newly-hired school employees into 401-k only retirement plans.

Those bills are being discussed in both the state house and senate.

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