Republicans At Odds Over Detroit Pensions

Apr 23, 2014

Gov. Snyder and Senate leader not embracing Bolger's union demands

Republican leaders in Lansing are not joining House Speaker Jase Bolger's calls for unions to contribute to Detroit's bankruptcy settlement.

Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger.
Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger.
Credit gophouse.org

Gov. Rick Snyder and several foundations have signed off on a complicated deal to protect retiree pensions and artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The state's contribution to the so-called "grand bargain" would be about $350 million, and state lawmakers would have to approve that money.

Bolger, R-Marshall, says it's only fair for unions to contribute to the deal as well.

Gov. Snyder says reaching a settlement is critical to get Detroit out of bankruptcy, and requiring unions to pay up won't make that any easier.

"It makes it more challenging," the governor told reporters Wednesday.

But Snyder says he respects Bolger's decision to make it a condition in the House.

"People have different perspectives on what should be required," he said. "And I appreciate him. He's been a proactive person talking about wanting to get this settled. Again, we didn't have that on our list of conditions."

State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, is also not embracing Bolger's demands. But he says he understands them.

"What he's basically saying is, 'Put your money where your mouth is.' You know, if the unions come out and support this package, that's great. That's good enough for me. He wants them to put a little skin in the game. I understand where he's coming from. I'm not going to be as adamant as he is, but I'm OK with him asking for that," said Richardville.

Richardville says he will not hold up a vote in the Senate if unions refuse to contribute to the bankruptcy settlement.