Proos: MPSERS reform provides a sustainable, secure retirement for Michigan teachers

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate has approved a reform to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) to address a nearly $30 billion unfunded liability and ensure Michigan’s teachers have a quality retirement, said Sen. John Proos.

“Our hardworking teachers are among our most important assets, and this reform would help provide a secure retirement to those teachers who dedicated their lives to the critical task of educating the next generation of Michigan leaders,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Similar to refinancing a family mortgage, the Senate reform would help us pay off our debt sooner and ensure that we can still meet the obligations to our current teachers and retirees.

“To be clear, retirees and current school employees will see no change to their pensions.”

Senate Bill 401, as passed by the Senate, would close the current hybrid plan and enroll school employees hired after Feb. 1, 2018 into a new defined contribution retirement plan. All employees would have the chance to opt into a new hybrid plan within a 75-day window.

“Under this measure, new teachers would receive a competitive and portable 401(k) retirement plan, just like legislators and state employees,” Proos said.

The 401(k) plan would include a required 4 percent employer contribution plus an optional 3 percent employee contribution that would be matched by the state — for a total of 10 percent of the employee’s salary.

According to the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency, between 2000 and 2016, the unfunded liability in the MPSERS pension system grew from $246 million to $29.1 billion.

“In just a little longer than my oldest daughter’s lifetime, the MPSERS pension debt has increased by more than 11,000 percent,” Proos said. “Growth like that is unsustainable and unaffordable. We owe it to our teachers, students and taxpayers to address this growing problem, which is already negatively impacting our schools and threatening resources meant for the classroom to educate our children.

“This long-overdue reform will provide our teachers with a sustainable and secure retirement while also ensuring that we protect critical school funding.”