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Action alert: still time to act on school retirement bills

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Quick action needed! Revised school pension bills moving fast
They cut a deal, and we weren't invited

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Pension proposals won't help our public schools
Dear Friends,

As we said in our last Legislative Update, they've been playing "let's make a deal" in Lansing, and we weren't invited. Now they intend to wave their deal in front of our collective noses for a few moments as they rush to pass it into law. We need you to speak out as soon as possible!

We knew that Gov. Snyder, who had been cut out of budget negotiations with his Republican colleagues in the Legislature, had agreed to some kind of changes to the public school retirement system (MPSERS). According to press reports, the governor and Legislative leaders hammered out the details earlier today (Tuesday). Details are sketchy, because nothing has been made public. If the past is any guide, the public will see the revised legislation for about fifteen minutes before identical versions are approved by the House and Senate Education committees. While the chairmen of both committees promise they will take testimony on the proposals, both leave no doubt about the outcome. If they are very good with their footwork (and waive a few standing rules), a bill could be passed by both chambers and sent to the governor by late tomorrow.

Gongwer News Service reports that House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) was asked about this accelerated schedule: "Mr. Leonard had previously told reporters he wanted the MPSERS changes to be done right. When pressed on if it is fair to hold hearings at 8 a.m. without providing the public a chance to look at the bills first, Mr. Leonard said it was. 'There will be hearings tomorrow. This deal was just signed off on,' he said. 'I don't believe this is rushing it. I believe we are setting this as soon as we can so we can have proper vetting on this.'"


So, we're not even going to go into what little detail we know about the plan, except to say that it seems like a horrible patch job designed to let state political leaders declare "victory" today and put problems off for future lawmakers to cope with. Certainly nothing new there.

But I'm sick of seeing legislation like this, which has huge consequences for our public schools and potentially mind-blowing costs, hammered out in proverbial smoke-filled rooms in the dead of night and then rammed through to become law the next day.

What about you? Please join me in telling the power brokers in Lansing to just "STOP!" These folks are messing with our public schools, which serve our children and our communities, to solve a problem which doesn't even exist, with what may be a backbreakingly expensive "solution," concocted in secret, which will be fast-tracked into law probably by the end of the day tomorrow.

This is no way to run anything, let alone the local schools to which we entrust the care and education of our children. But this proposal is at the top of someone's agenda, and you can bet they do not have the health of our community-governed public schools at heart. So, in turn, it became the top priority of our Legislative leaders - who are supposed to be working for us.

No more. If our legislators expect our support come election day, they need to listen to us now, when it counts. Please tell your legislators and Gov. Snyder that good law is not made in secret and that you will be watching the choices they make in the coming days.

Steve Norton
Michigan Parents for Schools

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