Local retirement stability bills signed

I was honored to join Gov. Rick Snyder as he signed my legislation to implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force, which I served on with legislators, retirement plan experts, local government representatives and local employee union leaders.

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.

While this 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.

Public Acts 202-214 of 2017 are designed to increase transparency, preserve local control and encourage local solutions. Many local governments have already taken action to address their unfunded liabilities. The proactive reforms will help locals that have not taken steps to resolve their growing debt issue.

It is estimated that local governments in Michigan are $18.8 billion in the red on their pension and retirement health care obligations.

The new laws 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. 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.