Helping Districts Deal With Deficits

Emergency manager law, health care contributions having an effect

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Brighton Area Schools has overspent its budget the past three years.

But this year, Superintendent Greg Gray said the district will end up with a $1 million surplus, thanks to about $7 million in concessions from the teacher’s union.

Gray said the difference was “good negotiating.” When asked if the new legislation requiring public-sector employees pay 20 percent of the cost of their own health insurance premiums played a part, he said, “possibly.”

Gray said teachers now contribute about $2,200 a year toward their health care costs under the terms of a one-year contract they signed last August. Those teachers previously paid just $450 per year, according to information provided by the district to the Mackinac Center.

But Michael Van Beek, education policy director of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said he thinks the health care mandate may have motivated the union to make more concessions. He also said the state's new emergency manager law could have been a factor.

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“Not only do you have that health care legislation sitting out there, you've got an emergency manager possibility for a district that has been in deficit for a while,” Van Beek said. “Having their members pay more for health care is far better than having an emergency manager come in and void their contracts or set them aside for a period.”

Ellen Lafferty, president of the Brighton Education Association, didn’t return an email seeking comment.

The Brighton Education Association webpage contains links to movements to repeal the emergency manager legislation and recall Gov. Rick Snyder.

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See also:

Coverage of School District Claiming Cuts

Five Easy Questions to Ask School Officials

Helpful Facts About Michigan's Public Sector

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