Sharing public benefits cost will help put more dollars into the classroom

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Despite the recent debt crisis headlines in Europe and Washington D.C., one of the nation’s leading credit rating agencies actually improved its outlook on Michigan’s credit, moving it to positive. They cited “prudent budgeting” and an economy that is rebounding as key reasons for their optimism.

This illustrates that the difficult reforms we have made this year to improve government efficiency and energize our economy are working. Now we’ve taken another step toward reducing the government costs by requiring public sector employees to contribute more towards their health care benefits.

Private sector workers in the Midwest pay an average of 21 percent of their health care premium for single coverage and 30 percent for families, while the average public employee contributes 10 and 15 percent.

Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay more to maintain public employee benefit levels. The reform caps public employer contributions to employee health benefits at a fixed amount, and gives local units the ability to opt-in to an 80/20 plan where employees would pay at least 20 percent of their premium. Limiting the amount various public sector employers pay toward health care coverage will bring public contributions in line with the private sector.

State and university employees are not affected by this reform. Even so, this reform – which does affect lawmakers – will save more than $550 million, including an estimated $452 million in savings for schools. These are dollars that can be used in the classroom educating our kids and on the streets keeping us safe.

Judy Emmons
State Senator – 33rd District
 

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