Archived Story

Rep. Sharon Tyler: Cut the perks

Published 8:35pm Wednesday, August 17, 2011

As we ask Michigan taxpayers to share in our efforts to save money, create jobs and rebuild our economy, it is only fair that as lawmakers, we do our part to help.
In my opinion, this means looking for more cost-saving measures within our own jobs.
Before this legislative session began, lawmakers took a 10 percent pay cut and reduced our office expenditures. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, lawmaker offices will face an additional 13.9 percent cut to our budgets. These are only beginning steps, however, toward fiscal responsibility for the House of Representatives.
Ending retirement health care for lawmakers is a necessary reform that can’t be ignored. Currently, lawmakers are eligible for retirement benefits upon reaching age 55 after serving six years in office. Michigan taxpayers cannot and should not pay for this perk. Continuing this benefit while asking residents to make difficult financial choices at home and work is wrong.
House members have already voted to end this retirement health care benefit for all legislators who took office after Jan. 1, 2007, along with all future lawmakers. If signed into law, Michigan lawmakers will no longer receive lifetime health insurance coverage for serving six years in the Legislature. This legislation is now in the Senate for consideration.
As a legislator who would be eligible for this benefit, I am proud to have voted to end this perk. Discarding this generous bonus is one of the most common sense changes we can make.
In addition to eliminating lifetime benefits, I want to clarify a misconception about our retirement options. Contrary to popular belief, lawmakers have had 401Ks instead of pensions since 1997.
In our struggle to rebuild, it is important that the public sector is on the same page as the private sector, particularly when it comes to pay and benefits. I take this responsibility very seriously, and am honored to serve my community during these trying times as we strive to create a state where we can all thrive.

I look forward to hearing your comments on these important issues. Please feel free to contact me by calling (8880 373-0078 or e-mailing sharontyler@house.mi.gov.

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