Recently, the Michigan Senate passed a public employee retirement plan, an initiative that would possibly save more than $200 million for public schools.
While the plan - which would penalize public employees eligible for retirement who refuse to do so and makes all public employees contribute up to an additional 3 percent of their salaries to pension plans - is not ideal, the passing of the bill is a harsh necessity.
Without the savings, school funding will be cut by at least $118 more per student - according to a recent Associated Press story - which is a hit Michigan schools, especially our smaller local schools, cannot afford to take, as they are already operating on a bare-bones budget. Although the measure may seem unfair to teachers of retirement age, Michigan's enormous budget deficit will not disappear on its own, and difficult decisions need to be made.
Teachers may also be unhappy about the forced pension plan contribution, but they likely will feel different in 20 to 30 years when they are able to retire a bit earlier than they expected. A push toward additional planning for the future is not a malevolent idea, especially with an impending Social Security crisis.
The retirement plan will help recent college graduates as well, as many current out-of-work teachers were told at the beginning of their university careers of a teacher shortage. Yet only a few years later, there suddenly is a glut of teachers, and what were future educators are having to turn to other outlets for employment. With the retirement bill, perhaps a few burgeoning teachers will be able to find jobs that did not exist before.
While laws like these may be hard to stomach, we must look out for the future of our students. Passing the retirement plan is a step toward making sure that future is sustainable.