Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) introduced a resolution late Wednesday demanding Gov. Rick Snyder return money illegally taken from school employees’ paychecks from 2010-12, the subject of a seven-year court battle led by MEA and AFT Michigan.
Three separate court rulings have deemed the law unconstitutional which forced the deduction of 3 percent of school employees’ wages to fund future health care in retirement – a benefit they were not even guaranteed to receive.
In addition to Senate Resolution 37, Knezek is promoting an online petition to pressure the repayment of more than $550 million taken from teachers, counselors, bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, paraeducators, and food service workers, among other school employees.
“This money has been sitting in an escrow account and returning it will not impact our state’s budget in any way – it will simply return this money to its rightful owners,” Knezek said in a Facebook post pushing his resolution and petition.
Last July, Snyder appealed a court ruling that ordered repayment of the money, despite more than 33,000 petition signatures opposing the appeal and dozens of MEA members protesting outside his office on the filing deadline.
The state Supreme Court has not yet issued an opinion in that appeal, but Knezek’s resolution and petition call for Snyder to immediately drop the case and give school employees their money back.
“This is not how we should treat the people who go above and beyond for Michigan’s children each and every day – the people who rise before dawn to get the sidewalks shoveled and school buses warmed up, and the people who stay late into the evening to advise student clubs and help students with homework,” the online petition reads. “We can and must do better.”
Both the trial court and Court of Appeals agreed the law violated state and federal constitutional protections involving the taking of private property without compensation, due process, and impairment of contracts.
In 2012, state lawmakers passed a replacement law which was upheld by the Supreme Court last April. Under that law, school employees were required to make elections regarding health care in retirement and voluntary deductions.