Just a little off the (benefits) top

Michigan State Roundup

Published May 1, 2007  | May 2007 issue

Certain benefits enjoyed by public sector workers in Michigan appear to be in for a trim, though the changes will affect future public sector workers a bit more than current ones. In February, the state Court of Appeals ruled that governments and public universities that provided health insurance to same-sex partners were in violation of the state's constitution.

A month later, the Legislature was working on bills to end lifetime health coverage for retired state lawmakers. With a state budget mired in deficit, the proposals sprout from the fact that costs for retiree health care are not forward funded (like retirement pensions), but are paid for out of the annual general fund.

Statements from both parties suggested that lawmakers were willing to personally help balance the state budget. Maybe, but the sacrifice in this case likely will be borne by new lawmakers, because state law prohibits the repeal of any benefit already promised to existing workers.

Ronald A. Wirtz