Here’s leadership on government employee bennies

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 I don’t usually have much good to say about politicians on this blog, but here’s an exception.

 Lorence Wenke is a former state representative who assembled a pretty impressive portfolio of specific proposals for reforming government employee health benefit programs that are way out of synch with private sector norms.

I don’t agree with all of this – specifically the proposal for an income tax increase to finance the transition of school employees from defined benefit to defined contribution (401K) pensions (no surprise that I would find the money by cutting other spending). However, this is a serious and sincere smorgasbord of very worthwhile reforms.

 From MichiganVotes.org – 21 bills introduced by Rep. Lorence Wenke (R) with keyword “employee” (less dupes):

 Introduced 2008 House Bill 5772 (Require higher public employee insurance copays ) to prohibit the state and local governments from paying more than 75 percent of the cost of the health insurance benefits provided to public employees.

  • Introduced 2008 House Bill 5636 (Clarify state employee pension double dipping ban ) to expand the definition of “employed by the state” in a new law that prohibits a state government employee who retires and begins collecting a pension to then take a state job as a direct employee or working for a contractor, and collect a paycheck and a pension both (double dipping). The bill would clarify that the ban applies to someone who is hired indirectly by the state under a contract with an employment agency, or is hired as an indirect contractor.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 5271 (Raise income tax and transition to 401K for school employees ) to increase the state income tax by .1 percent and use the money to pay the costs of transitioning “all public school employees” from the traditional defined benefit pension system to a defined contribution plan (401K).
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 5167 (Establish regulations for transition to school defined benefit system ) to establish detailed regulations that would apply to the transition of the school employees retirement system to a defined contribution plan.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 5168 (Establish regulations for transition to school defined benefit system ) to establish detailed regulations that would apply to the transition of the school employees retirement system to a defined contribution plan.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 5169 (Transition new police and firefighters to defined benefit system ) to require the fire fighters and police officers retirement system to adopt a benefits structure that would “cost no more than a defined contribution plan” for employees hired after June 30, 2008.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 5170 (Transition new State Police to defined benefit system ) to require the State Police retirement system to adopt a benefits structure that would “cost no more than a defined contribution plan” for employees hired after June 30, 2008.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 4912 (Exclude new community college employees from defined benefit pension system ) to not include community college employees hired after Jan. 1, 2008 in the school employee pension and post-retirement health benefit system (MPSERS). Beginning in 2008, the annual contribution that community colleges make to the system would be based on an actuarial calculation of the 40 year amortization cost of the unfunded liability of the pension and health insurance promises to employees already enrolled in the system.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 4799 (Limit dual state employee school pension/salary loophole ) to repeal a provision of the school employee pension law that allows an employee to “retire,” start collecting a pension, and then return to work for a school district, collecting a wage or salary while simultaneously collecting pension benefits (“double dipping”). The bill would suspend pension payments while an individual worked for a school. The bill is part of a government pension reform package comprised of House Bills 4799 to 4809.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 4803 (Cap school health benefits at state employee equivalent ) to prohibit a school district from granting health insurance benefits to its employees that exceed the most generous plans provided to state government workers. The bill would require the state to post those benefits on a web site. See also House Bill 4804, which would open up the state plan to other public employers, including schools. The bill is part of a government pension reform package comprised of House Bills 4799 to 4809.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 4804 (Open state employee health plan to all schools and governments ) to open up the health insurance plan that the state provides to its employees to all other units of government in Michigan, who would be able to be part of a much larger risk pool, and would pay the state whatever the actual cost is to cover their own employees under the plan. The bill is part of a government pension reform package comprised of House Bills 4799 to 4809.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 4805 (Cap local government health benefits at state employee equivalent ) to prohibit a local unit of government from granting health insurance benefits to its employees that exceed the most generous plans provided to state government workers. The bill would require the state to post those benefits on a web site. See also House Bill 4804, which would open up the state plan to other public employers. The bill is part of a government pension reform package comprised of House Bills 4799 to 4809.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 4807 (Limit future government employee pension costs ) to establish that the cost of post-retirement benefits for new local government employees hired after March 31, 2006, may not exceed the cost of plans for previously hired or past government employees. The bill is part of a government pension reform package comprised of House Bills 4799 to 4809.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 4808 (Limit future school employee pension costs ) to establish that the cost of post-retirement benefits for new school employees hired after March 31, 2006, may not exceed the cost of plans for previously hired or past employees. The bill is part of a government pension reform package comprised of House Bills 4799 to 4809.
  • Introduced 2007 House Bill 4809 (Cap local government health benefits at state employee equivalent ) to prohibit a local unit of government, college or university from granting health insurance benefits to its employees that exceed the most generous plans provided to state government workers. The bill would require the state to post those benefits on a web site. See also House Bill 4804, which would open up the state plan to other public employers. The bill is part of a government pension reform package comprised of House Bills 4799 to 4809.
  • Introduced 2007 House Concurrent Resolution 18 to ask the Governor to require the approximately 53,000 state employees to forgo the scheduled pay increase as well to contribute more to the cost of their fringe benefits.
  • Introduced 2005 House Bill 5314 (Not put new community college employees in MPSERS ) to not place new community college employees in the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS teacher pension system), but instead allow them to participate in a defined contribution (401k-type) retirement plan .
  • Introduced 2005 House Bill 5171 (Require prefunding school employee pension health benefits ) to require prefunding of school employee post-retirement health care benefits, rather than the current “pay as you go” system. A new state investment fund would be created for the purpose. Presumably higher employer contributions would be required until this new fund has enough resources to cover anticipated future costs.
  • Introduced 2005 House Bill 5173 (Eliminate pension for five-year teachers ) to eliminate the provision of the current school employee pension law that allows a school employee with just five years on the job to be eligible for a pension in some circumstances.
  • Introduced 2003 House Bill 5331 (Tax breaks for “start-up business”) to exempt for five years a “qualified start-up business” from any single business tax (SBT) liability in a year in which it does not make a profit. (Note: The SBT is a tax on the value added by a firm in producing a product, which means that a firm may owe SBT tax even though it makes no profit.) A “qualified start-up business” is defined as a firm that has fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees, has annual sales of less than $1 million, has research and development expenses that make up at least 15-percent of its annual expenses, and is not publicly traded. This does not necessarily apply only to new firms, and the five year exemption is not necessarily the firm’s first five years of operation. Passed in the House (103 to 4) on April 27, 2004.
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    3 Responses to “Here’s leadership on government employee bennies”

    1. John Swibes Says:

      Jack,

      Great work. Informative and very useful. Any idea on how many of these bills were passed? Becasue theya re based upon common sense i would figure not many.

    2. jmchugh4u Says:

      Only two – 4799 and 4800 of 2007 (double dipping). A majority of legislators behave as if their true constits were govenment employees, not taxpayers. Most of the rest are craven cowards at the prospect of government employee union resources being used against them in future campaigns.

      Note to Repubs: They are your implacable enemies and will try to destroy you no matter how much you kiss their feet, so you might as well go after them and take credit for it back in the district.

      Thanks for the kind words.

      JM

    3. Bill Says:

      Bill 5314:

      cc teachers are “allowed” now to opt out of MPSERS and instead do a 401k. I should know: I’m not in MPSERS. As aren’t many of my colleagues.

      Perhaps you meant the proposed bill would FORCE teachers out of MPSERS? If so, that’s a very un-free choic and un-free market thing, don’t you think?

      The trend I’ve seen in higher ed in Michigan is that teachers of their own free choice are opting for a personal 401 K when given the option of MPSERS vs. 401. No need to be asses and beat teachers over the head.

      Learn how to work with us instead of treating us like the goddam enemy all the time.

      Free tip.

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