Lawmakers reach final deal on teacher retirement package

Lansing, MI – State lawmakers worked until after 4 a.m. to approve a controversial measure designed to encourage veteran teachers and school employees to retire.

The retirement proposal is intended to save schools money at the local level that may face deep cuts in state funding for the coming year.

Democratic House Speaker Andy Dillon says approving the measure is vital to the state's schools budget.

"It means we're going to be able to get a K-12 budget done this year that won't have an effective cut," says Dillon. "And it means that thousands of young teachers are going to be able to get a job in the state of Michigan."

Republican state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop had to wheel-and-deal with Senate Democrats around 2 a.m. to pull a few final votes.

"I just can't believe that we sat here for that long to negotiate for an I-E (immediate effect) vote," Bishop remarked. "That was negotiating with terrorists on something that was about $3.1 billion in savings to the state of Michigan. I just can't believe that we just went through that."

The measure is intended to save schools money at the local level and offset potentially deep cuts to school aid funding for the coming fiscal year.

The Michigan Education Association -- the state's largest teachers union -- is strongly opposed to the retirement package.

The bills now go to Governor Granholm's desk for her signature.