News Story

Township Board Votes Unanimously to Exempt Employees From State Law, Continue Paying Nothing For Health Insurance

Choosing government workers over taxpayers

Salem Township employees don’t contribute anything to their health care costs.

And they won’t have to contribute up to 20 percent of their health care costs as a new state law mandates after the Salem Township board voted 7-0 to exempt itself from the law at its Dec. 13 meeting. Municipalities need a two-thirds vote from the governing body to be exempt from the law.

The Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act (Public Act 152) states that as of Jan. 1, 2012, “a public employer shall pay not more than 80% of the total annual costs of all of the medical benefit plans it offers or contributes to for its employees and elected public officials.”

The township's resolution states: “Salem Township further believes that the determination of compensation and benefits for the township employees are most properly under the venue of township’s elected representatives, and not the State of Michigan or its officials.”

Salem Township Supervisor Robert Heyl defended the vote in an email.

“We exempted ourselves to allow us time to work on a complete benefits package for our employees,” Heyl said. “Our only union employees are the paid on-call firefighters, and none of them have opted for health insurance. Our other employees currently do not contribute to health insurance. This will more than likely change.”

Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said no private-sector businesses would contemplate paying 100 percent of health care costs.

“Does government exist to serve the people, or the other way around?” asked McHugh. “Township officials who vote for excessive benefits show they're confused about who really deserves their loyalty — taxpayers or government employees and their unions.”

The average Michigan private-sector worker pays 21 percent of their health insurance, and the average federal employee in Michigan pays about 25 percent.

Salem Township is located in Washtenaw County.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.