Teachers to receive 3% back in legislation error

Jessica Vandermaas, Staff Writer

   In November of 2017, 2010’s Public Act 75 was ruled unconstitutional after a seven- year battle involving the Supreme Court. The law required teachers, in addition to other school personnel, to contribute 3 percent of their salaries toward retirement health care.

  After the law was challenged, all the money collected between 2010 and 2013 was put into an escrow account, and grew to be worth $550 million. Now, after the case was determined, educators are beginning to see their money again.

  World history teacher, Shane Smith, detailed his response to learning of the ruling, “My first reaction was ‘’bout time!’”

   Employees have yet to receive their returns, but Smith shared that “When we do get it, it is going to be fantastic.”

  He additionally joked about what his wife has planned to do with the money.

  “I think she’s talking about new carpet, new furniture, or maybe a vacation,” he amusingly expressed.

  Paula Herbart, president of the Michigan Education Association, had the job of ensuring that their legal team was providing a strong case during the trial, and, within the last year that she earned her position as President, she talked about the case with reporters and citizens of Michigan to help them understand the MEA’s position regarding the merits of the case.

  Herbart made it a point to make their voices heard. On the day of the trial, she stated, “I sat in the front row and looked into the eyes of all those Justices as if to say, ‘I’m watching you. I’m a witness to what you hear & what you say today! We deserve justice after 7 long years of injustice!’”

  Over time, teachers and the MEA began to win the case; however, Governor Rick Snyder refused to concede defeat repeatedly, hiring private attorneys to take the case to the Supreme Court.

  Snyder, after aggressively pursuing the case, still argues against returning the money to rightful owners, even after the trial cost the state of at least $196,082, according to an MLive investigation earlier this year.

  Smith, who has never been a proponent of Snyder’s, shared, “He has made it increasingly difficult to be a teacher in this state.”

  Now, district officials are facing obstacles regarding the returns. Schools, after receiving the money from the state, have to distribute the funds accordingly, depending on how much one was making at the time the law was established, which affects how much they ultimately were taxed.

  Smith concluded, ”For people who have been working here for a long time, it’s going to be a lot.”

  Either way, no matter how long they’ve been working, teachers are celebrating the money they will reacquire.