Local retirement stability bills headed to the governor

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation to implement the recommendations of the governor’s bipartisan Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force is on its way to the governor’s desk, said Sen. Jim Stamas, who served on the task force.

“Our local public servants play an important role in making Michigan a great place to live, work and raise a family — providing a wide variety of local services that we use and depend on every day,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “While this legislation is a step forward toward local retirement stability, I will continue fighting to preserve and protect the promises made to our local workers and ensure they receive the retirement benefits they have earned.”

The plan would enact the recommendations of the task force, which included legislators, retirement plan experts, local government representatives and local employee union leaders.

“It is estimated that local governments in Michigan are $18.8 billion in the red on their pension and retirement health care obligations,” Stamas said. “Our goal with this legislation is to increase transparency, preserve local control and encourage local solutions. Many local governments have already taken action to address their unfunded liabilities. These proactive reforms are designed to help locals that have not taken steps to resolve their growing debt issue.”

Senate Bills 686, 688, 691, 692, 694, 696 and 699 and House Bills 5301, 5304, 5306, 5308, 5310 and 5313 would create a stress system with additional reporting and steps for local governments with unfunded liabilities to develop and implement action plans to address the community’s debt.

“The overwhelming majority of communities will not be impacted by these measures other than having to report their costs and benefits to accurately assess their retirement obligations,” Stamas said. “This increased transparency will help local governments. If a local unit is in trouble, this will let them know as early as possible — giving the community its best chance to resolve the problem before it impacts local workers or retiree benefits.

“The reforms are the result of a lot of hard work and many productive conversations with local leaders and workers, and I want to thank everyone involved for their efforts.”