LANSING — State Rep. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) has introduced legislation today to reduce the unfunded liabilities of firefighter and police officer pensions. House Bill 5174 levies an excise tax at certain entertainment venues to help fund the retirement benefits owed to firefighters and police officers in the cities in which those venues are located.
“Whenever I attend a public meeting, people talk about public safety. Public safety begins with the ability to recruit, develop and retain quality individuals for a lifetime of service,” Santana said. “Detroit is not the only city in the state that has a hard time retaining quality individuals in these critical fields. I believe this is the first step toward solving the issue of retirement funding for police and firefighters.”
HB 5174 imposes a 10 percent excise tax on the value of tickets sold for entertainment events at facilities with 500 seats or more within municipalities of 100,000 or more people.
“This is about the safety of the community. We need skilled workers that are invested in the communities they serve and their profession. Recruiting and retaining these skilled workers means taking care of them and their families,” Aric Tosqui, President of the Detroit Police Command Officers Association. “We want them to stay and be committed to the community by guaranteeing a future with a retirement outlook that will protect their families. HB 5174 takes the right steps to recruit and retain these skilled professionals that will be invested in our community.”
The bill exempts school functions, collegiate sporting events, and events sponsored by nonprofit or charitable organizations. The state treasurer will disburse the revenue from the tax to the appropriate municipalities to help fund the retirement pay and benefits for their police officers and firefighters.
“With this bill, the city of Detroit and other municipalities throughout the state will be able to recruit and retain police officers and firefighters,” Santana said. “This not only guarantees the pension and health care of future public safety officers, but will adequately fund the retirement of those that are in the system today and the retirees that spent their entire career in the community.”