LANSING — This week, Republican legislators are considering efforts to strip away critically important benefits for retired police and firefighters, such as health care. In response, state Rep. Tom Cochran (D-Cochran) issued the following statement: 

“As a former firefighter and fire chief, I understand the sacrifice our first responders make each day they willingly put their lives on the line to serve our neighbors. During my nearly 30 years of service, I witnessed the perilous consequences that result from protecting the public. Even if a first responder was lucky enough to survive great injuries and even death, many still developed diseases, including cancer, later in life due to the toxins they inhaled while fighting fires, which meant they needed medical help well into retirement. I hear many people call first responders ‘heroes,’ which is nice, but what matters more to me is how we treat them. When my colleagues across the aisle move to take away the health care benefits of retired first responders, I have to ask just how much they truly respect these heroes. This is not how you thank someone who selflessly risked their life to save you. As legislators, we all know that our state has cut revenue sharing to local communities, making it harder for cities and counties to meet their obligations to retirees. Let’s talk about restoring those funds, rather than cutting vital benefits to retired first responders.”