LANSING — Tonight, House Democrats voted to protect the earned health care benefits of Michigan’s retired first responders. Last week, hundreds of police officers and firefighters rallied against proposals which could have gutted health care for local heroes. Today, the recommendation of House Democrats to implement the reforms of the bipartisan Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force was accepted. While these benefits are now protected, communities in the state continue to struggle with chronic underfunding of local budgets. In response, state Rep. Brian K. Elder (D-Bay City) issued the following statement:

“Make no mistake: Tonight is a win for police and firefighters throughout our state, as their health care benefits are now safe from catastrophic and irresponsible cuts. But there is still more work to be done. As a former county commissioner for eight years, I can attest to the fact that for too long, the state has underfunded our local governments. Now it is the Legislature’s responsibility to make things right. Tonight, we took an important first step by implementing the recommendations of the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government task force, which I and my Democratic colleagues have supported all along. This plan ensures that we continue to guarantee that those who risk their lives to protect us are able to retire with dignity.”