Johnson, LaFontaine introduce retirement reform

LANSING — Reps. Joel Johnson and Andrea LaFontaine have introduced a package of bills to save taxpayers money by reducing the expense of retirement benefits for former members of the state Legislature.

Among the measures in the package are: House Bill No. 4107, to eliminate the 4 percent cost of living increase that former lawmakers under the defined benefit plan receive annually, HB No. 4109, requiring active legislators who will benefit from health insurance coverage pay 5 percent of their salary into the Health Insurance Fund, and HB No. 4108, which requires that all retirees, including those who have already retired, to pay at least 20 percent of their health insurance premium.

“We need to continue the difficult work of making sure all unfunded state liabilities are taken care of,” said LaFontaine, R-Columbus Township. “Last term, the Legislature made changes to the two largest and most expensive state-administered retirement systems - the State Employee Retirement System and the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System.  While those both helped to reduce our debt burden, I think we need to resume the reforms by addressing the Legislative Retirement System.”

Johnson, R-Clare, said: “Part of rebuilding a healthy economy in Michigan has been to address the spiraling costs of retirement and health care benefits. One of my commitments as a freshman lawmaker was to end the luxurious benefit coverage for lawmakers who serve only a handful of years, and to make sure everyone is paying their fair share.

“While I am happy with what we accomplished last session to save taxpayer dollars, we knew there was more work to be done. Now we can follow up with the next phase, so that everyone is on equal footing.”

Johnson is the sponsor of HB No. 4108 and LaFontaine authored HBs No. 4107 and 4109.