Michigan Republicans dealt another blow to public employee unions Wednesday as they pushed ahead with a plan to force local governments and school districts to cap health care spending or risk losing state aid, a move that would require workers to pay more for coverage and limit officials' ability to negotiate local contracts.
The measure expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder is just the most recent loss for public sector unions in the longtime labor stronghold and during a year in which government employees nationwide are being forced to pay more for pension and health care benefits to help stem massive budget shortfalls.
It's also the latest move by Snyder's administration to expand state oversight of local government and education affairs.
Starting Jan. 1, local government and school district health care payouts will be limited to a range of $5,500 for a single employee to $15,000 for a family, which would increase based on inflation. Governments and school districts could opt to require employees to pay 20 percent of their own coverage instead.
Refusing to abide by the new law could cost governments and school districts up to 10 percent of their state aid payments. A local government, such as a city or county, could opt out of the health care payment requirements and avoid the funding cut only if two-thirds of its governing body agrees. School districts are not allowed to opt out of the requirements.
"The state has never been involved in negotiating our benefits before," said Ben Bodkin, legislative affairs director for the Michigan Association of Counties. "We believe helping counties specifically with additional tools to help control their costs themselves are a good idea across the board, but we do not support mandates."
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/08/24...#ixzz1WSqicbCD