When did we become public enemy number one? Since when are law enforcement officers responsible for the economic ills that have befallen our State and local communities? Someone please tell me.
This current State legislature has continually attacked our health care benefits, pensions and restricted our right to collect retroactivity. What is more shocking to me is the vote on all of these issues are along party lines with the Republicans voting for this legislation with the Democrats voting against. Many of our members are Republicans and have supported GOP candidates in the past. Is this our thanks?
Act 63 of 2011 reduced our defined benefit pensions. This bill was buried in the series of bills in the Governor's budget and appropriations bills. This bill limits our multiplier to 1.5%. We can go to 2.0% if we are not in Social Security. Seventy-two percent of police and fire in this state are not in Social Security. Decades ago many communities opted out of Social Security for their police and firefighters in an effort to save money. At that time Social Security laws permitted public employers to do so. Now this legislature wants to trim our pensions even further by reducing our multipliers.
Act 63 also puts limitations on what can be included in average final compensation. I guess it wasn't enough to tax our pensions.
Act 54 is another piece of legislation that wounded police officers in the pocket book. Retroactivity is now illegal. We cannot bargain it, and Act 312 arbitrators cannot award it. Additionally, Act 54 mandates that police officers have to pay 100% of any increases in health care that may arise between the expiration date of the collective bargaining agreement and the effective date of the new agreement. Act 54 bars any step increases in payer longevity that may occur during this period as well.
MAP believes this to be punitive in nature. The amount of savings to the communities from this law is negligible. The effect upon our take home pay is major.
Act 152, sometimes referred to as the 80/20 health care laws, was passed in September of 2011. This law mandates public employers to pay no more than 80% of the total health care costs, including premium, deductibles, co-insurance and health reimbursements, or the Employer may choose to pay no more than the hard cap provisions of the law. Those rates are as follows: 15,000 dollars per year for a family plan, 11,000 dollars per year for a two person plan, and 5,500 dollars per year for a single person. Again, these rates must include deductibles, co-insurance, prescription drugs, health savings or reimbursements. The Employee must pay anything over or above these rates.
On the bright side, the State Treasurer based upon the medical inflation rate adjusts these rates annually in October. The first increase is due October of 2012.
Act 152 along with the other two were passed strictly along party lines with the Democrats voting against while the GOP voted in favor of passage.
Just exactly who are our friends and who are our enemies? I believe that it is time for all of our members to carefully consider their choices when they go to the polls this November to vote for their State Representative. The entire Michigan House of Representatives is up for re-election.
When casting your ballot this November, stop and think about who or what you are voting for, your wages and benefits may depend on it.
Fred Timpner, Executive Director, MAP