Republicans work to end lifetime legislator benefits

LANSING – Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, introduced Senate Bill 26 today to end retirement health insurance for state senators and representatives after only six years. Legislators currently need to only serve six years to be eligible for retirement health insurance at age 55.

A bill to end the benefit passed the House last session. The Senate approved the measure but amended it and sent it back to the House. House Democrat leadership sat on the reforms; not allowing a vote from February 2010 through the end of the year.

“Retirement health insurance benefits after only six years of service is obscene,” said Jones. “I was very angry that the Democrat leadership would not move the bill last year. Michigan residents are demanding that the state tighten its belt and adopt serious spending reforms. Republicans will work together and pass this reform – saving taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Jones noted that several steps to reduce the cost of the Legislature have already happened. All legislative salaries were cut 10 percent on Jan.1, 2011, and office budgets have been reduced for three consecutive years. All the old-style retirement plans are gone and only 401k plans are available.

“Ending retirement health insurance after only six years is a reform that still needs to be done,” Jones said. “Republicans in the Senate and House are working together to ensure this long overdue reform is completed this session.”

State Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare, has introduced a similar measure, House Bill 4087, to end this benefit.