Sunday, March 6, 2011

Unfair Justification for a Tax Increase

It is now after 3:00 in the afternoon on a Sunday and I just finished reading the front section of today's Detroit Free Press.  I go it out of my mailbox at 6:30 this morning, but when I saw the front page listing not one or two, but at least ten different articles on the Governor's budget, I took the first three sections of the paper and said 'Later'.  Now, 'later' has arrived.

First, let me say that I had received notice last week that the Lt. Governor was going to address the House Tax Policy Committee regarding the Governor's budget.  I opted to stay home rather than drive to Lansing to listen to the messenger. 

Fast forward to today and there on page 17A is a 'POLI-BITES' titled 'Engler poster boy for need to tax pensions'.   Shame on you Mr. Calley.  Nothing like a little distortion of public pensions to make a point.  Apparently, our former legislator and Governor has two public pensions totalling $186,200 a year and a seven figure salary.  Calley asked if he really needed a 'tax-free' pension.  (Good for Mr. Engler for landing a seven figure salary in his new job. I'm guessing he has to pay taxes on it in whatever jurisdiction it is earned.)

First, I would like to know why he has two pensions when he only worked for one employer for 37 years.  Seems the State has a problem there.  And an automatic annual increase of 4% every year?  Health care after six years?  Lansing needs to get their own house (and senate) in order before they strike out at public employees.

Let's start by looking at the public employees I know best - those in West Bloomfield.  There is no pension credit for more than thirty years of service.  General Office employees can only receive a maximum of 60% of their final average salary and police and fire are capped at 80%.  Work forty years as a police officer and retire?  You get 80% of your final average compensation.  The same you would have gotten at 30 years.  Leave with thirty years of seniority as an office clerk and are only 50 years old?  No retiree health care for you.  You must stay until you are 55 to get it.  And if you leave at 55 and take your pension, it will be at a reduced amount.  And I know of no one who ever left with a six-figure pension.  I certainly didn't.  Not even close.

As for the annual increase, the cost of living for West Bloomfield pensions is tied to a Federal clerical index.  Last year it went down and this year the increase was barely noticeable.

They way I see it, some legislators in the past rewarded themselves with nice pensions and perks and now the new guys in town want everyone who was busy teaching their children, catching their criminals, and fighting their fires to ante up and pay the piper. 

For the Lt. Governor to complain that the State is not getting money on the pension of Mr. Engler and use that as justification for taxing all pensions is unfair.  Seems like he and newspaper reporters love to point out all of the high pensions payed to a select few individuals.  And the public loves to hear it and complain that they do not want to pay for public pensions.

What I want to know is, where are the articles on folks complaining about the high salaries payed to sports figures.  Is the public not paying their salaries?  Tickets to games?  Advertising costs rolled into merchandise you buy with their names on it?  Would you rather pay the salary and pension of the man pulling you out of a burning house or a crushed car or the salary of the guy running the football down the field?  Just asking.

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