Three weeks ago, I wrote about a major legal victory for teachers in Michigan. For the second time, an Appeals Court judge ruled that a law requiring teachers to give up 3% of their paycheck to fund their retirement account was unconstitutional. Despite this, of course, there was always the possibility that the Snyder administration would appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court and the $550 million of teachers’ money that is being held in escrow would continue to sit there, gathering dust.
Yesterday, Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that he would not be appealing the case to the Supreme Court on behalf of the state. Today, however, Gov. Rick Snyder announced that HE was going to appeal the Appeals Court decision and he’s willing to do it without the help of Schuette and his staff. They’ll hire yet another outside lawyer to pursue it (paid for with tax dollars, of course), much like Bill Schuette did when he was fighting marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s yet another attack on teachers by Gov. Snyder and will waste even more of our tax dollars so that he can extract as much from teachers as possible to help fill in the budgetary crater created by the monster corporate tax giveaways that Gov. Snyder signed into law in 2010 (and after that, too.)
Teachers, of course, are outraged. MEA President Steven Cook called Snyder’s decision “appalling” and “unconscionable”. “It’s unconscionable that Gov. Snyder has chosen to continue appealing the recent court decision that school employees should be refunded the 3 percent of their salary that was illegally taken from them,” Cook said. “In light of Attorney General Schuette’s decision not to participate in any appeal of this matter, Gov. Snyder’s choice today can only be interpreted as a continued attack on school employees and a continued waste of taxpayer dollars on a politically-motivated appeal, that the state has lost every step of the way.”
AFT Michigan President David Hecker went further. “The Court of Appeals got this case right. The payroll deductions were hard earned wages and requiring payment and no guarantee of the benefit is unconstitutional. We are confident that the Michigan Supreme Court will rule in our favor,” Hecker said in a statement. “Governor Snyder’s decision to drag this case out, even though the Attorney General will not assist in the appeal, is a shameful use of the people’s time and money. School employees deserve to have their hard earned money returned to them as soon as possible, but instead they will have to wait as Governor Snyder spends more time defending what is clearly an unconstitutional law.”
In a bizarre twist of events, Bill Schuette is being the reasonable one here, something that is very rarely the case.
Snyder and Schuette have been feuding quite publicly lately. Schuette decided to appeal a federal court decision related to new EPA rules that curtail mercury emissions from power plants, something that Gov. Snyder announced he was not on board with. More recently, Schuette accused Snyder and his administration of failing to release all of the documents related to the Flint water crisis that his office had requested. Snyder, of course, said he had complied.
What is quite clear is that the victims of the feuding heads of the Michigan Republican Party are the people of our state, especially teachers, Flint residents, and anyone who enjoys living in an environment that is not contaminated with deadly, toxic mercury. In all of these cases, when one of the two of them stood down, the other stood up to ensure the wrong path is taken.
And the entire battle is being paid for with our tax dollars.