LANSING — This week, bills were introduced to strip away critically important benefits for retired police and firefighters, such as health care. In response, state Rep. Ronnie Peterson (D-Ypsilanti) issued the following response:

"This week, a huge gathering of first responders rallied around the state Capitol building to speak out against the possibility that retired police and firefighters would be stripped of their health care benefits. For anyone to consider taking these hard-earned health benefits from retirees and their families — many of whom live on modest and fixed incomes — is downright shameful. Local governments’ financial woes are not caused by these retirees’ health care protections: In truth, the buck stops right here in Lansing. The very state government that is supposed to be protecting our most vulnerable citizens has instead put them in jeopardy by consistently underfunding revenue sharing payments to local governments over the years. Balancing the state budget by shortchanging our local municipalities has left local officials struggling to keep their promises to retired workers. Turning our backs on the men and women who, in the name of protecting our communities, run into danger when the rest of us run away, will not fix our chronic underfunding of local governments over the years. I will defend the retired first responders and their families to my fellow legislators, and I stand with them against these misguided and heartless attempts to take away the health care benefits they not only earned, but deserve.”