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 public servants. 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. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) issued the following statement:


“Police, firefighters and paramedics are the public servants all communities rely on. It was unconscionable for legislators to even think about taking their retiree health care away, and that’s why I’m so pleased the House Democrats were able to prevent that from happening. The plan we passed — based on the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force recommendations that we had suggested all along — will allow local communities to address their financial problems without making first responders pay the price of fixing them. I was proud to stand with my colleagues as the voices of reason tonight, and I know that this is only the beginning in our fight to address funding shortfalls in our local governments. ”