The police union in Michigan is doing what public service unions in general usually do, 1) whine for more taxes 2) Complain they need more workers to maintain safety 3) Elect layoffs over reduced pay 4) Ignore the long term issues that need addressing.

Please consider Michigan State Police layoffs take effect Sunday.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – About 100 Michigan State Police troopers will be laid off Sunday after a last-ditch effort to avoid the job loss failed.

Members of the Michigan State Police Troopers Association voted against a furlough plan that would have temporarily cut their pay to avoid layoffs of low seniority workers.

The furlough plan would have required troopers to take 37 hours of unpaid leave over a six-week period. That would have saved jobs now, but there was no guarantee low-seniority officers would have kept their jobs in the next budget year.

Mike Moorman, the troopers’ union president, said the vote reflects dissatisfaction with how the state has handled public safety funding in recent years. Michigan has lost more than 2,000 law enforcement officers statewide this decade, including more than 400 from the state police. Positions have been eliminated as government tax revenues decline during a lengthy recession.

“The membership’s rejection of furlough time is not a reflection on our unwillingness to stop the loss of 100 troopers,” Moorman said in a statement. “Our members are fed up with the lack of public safety priorities in Michigan, which have been discussed for years, yet never acted upon.”

Col. Peter Munoz, director of the Michigan State Police, said in a statement he is “deeply disappointed” a solution could not be found to avoid the layoffs.

The state spent more than $8 million in the past few years training the troopers it now plans to lay off to save less than $2 million in the current budget year.

Some state lawmakers continue to question why Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration plans to move the police department into a new $40 million headquarters building in downtown Lansing early next year. The move could have long-term financial implications for the state police — including significantly higher annual lease payments of $3.7 million per year — but it does not affect the department’s budget for the current fiscal year.

Peter Munoz, director of the Michigan State Police, whines he is “deeply disappointed a solution could not be found to avoid the layoffs”. Munoz is wrong. There was a perfectly good solution to avoid the layoffs. If the union wanted to protect the most workers, the vote would have been for pay cuts. Instead, the union elected to do what unions typically do, protect the few instead of sharing the pain.

Of course there is plenty of blame to be spread around. Why is the legislature and/or Governor authorizing a new $40 million police headquarters in Lansing with lease payments $3.7 million per year higher?

After the layoffs, the Michigan State Police will have 958 troopers at posts across the state. Reduce the pension plans and benefits to reasonable levels and perhaps Michigan can afford 1200 officers. Then again, why isn’t 900 or even 850 officers enough? Michigan has lost 400 state police in a decade. Is anyone suffering for it? How?

Voters are fed up with paying ever increasing taxes to keep unneeded public servants in high paying jobs with ridiculous pension benefits.

State Police Pension Double-Dipping

Inquiring minds are digging further into the Michigan State Police layoff situation. Please consider Why another budget “crisis?” State Police Pension Double-Dipping (among other reasons).

Troopers start getting a portion of their pension while still working and simultaneously collecting their regular salary. The amount of pension they can collect is 30 percent the first year, 50 percent the second, and then increases 10 percent each year until eventually they are getting full pension and full pay before they have retired. The money is not paid out to them immediately but is deposited into an interest-bearing retirement account they get when they really retire.

That’s nuts, of course. No sane private sector employer would give away such a benefit.

We offer one because legislators abandoned their fiduciary duty to be responsible stewards and gave away a huge pile of loot to a powerful public employee union.

The rationale under which that caper was foisted on taxpayers was that Michigan State Police are eligible to retire and collect their pensions after just 25 years of service with no minimum age. As a result it’s not uncommon to have age 40-something men and women in the prime of life eligible to call it a career and head for the beaches, spending the last 35-40 years of their lives lounging at taxpayer expense.

Needless to say this causes potential staffing problems at the MSP. Rather than fix the problem in a rational and fiscally prudent way – establish a minimum age of say 55 or 65 before an individual can start collecting a pension – the political class gave away some boodle in the form of a goofy DROP program as an incentive to keep troopers working.

Pretty sweet deal, huh? Sweet for the troopers, but not for the taxpayers. And just one more example of why you should never believe a politician who says, “Our budget has been cut to the bone.”

Mike Moorman, the troopers’ union president, whines “Our members are fed up with the lack of public safety priorities in Michigan”.

Moorman is not bright enough to figure out what everyone else in the world knows: The US is in recession and Michigan is at the top of the list. There simply is no more tax money to pay for boated unions or their pension plans.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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