"As a former teacher, I have a responsibility to speak as a legislator not only on behalf of my constituents, but on behalf of those with whom I shared in calling and service for so many years. This pension bill is fiscally irresponsible, does nothing to address legacy debt, and continues to place the burden on schools and our children, and that was why I urged my colleagues passionately to vote no against House Bill 4647.

“We are already facing a teacher shortage in Michigan, and this legislation will further erode our ability to attract quality talent — without which we cannot properly prepare our students to become the thinkers, leaders and workers of tomorrow. We are compromising a retirement system that was designed to give educators a reasonable allowance to cover their cost of living in their senior years, yet now we’ve deemed that an unworthy venture. Who will suffer most? Our children.

“There are currently 26 school districts in financial debt, and among the myriad struggles they already face, it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to retain the talent they need to pull their students out of the political quagmire they have been dragged into. Some of my colleagues are willing to hold hostage the future of our state’s children to score political points on this front, while simultaneously backtracking on another critical one: jobs.

“This body has spent a great deal of time tweaking tax incentives for corporations for job creation. When our good teachers have fled, and our children are unable to receive an education that qualifies them for those jobs, who exactly will they have been created for? Businesses are about making money, they’re going to hire those with the talent worth their expense. If this trend continues, that talent will not be found in our schools.

“We should be good stewards of Michigan’s financial stability. We’ve seen enough of what partisan ideology can do to our state. It is time to stand together and work toward a more perfect union for the future of Michigan’s greatest asset, our children.”