News / USA

Detroit Government Retirees Struggle to Keep Benefits

Detroit Government Retirees Struggle to Keep Benefitsi
X
April 17, 2013 9:21 PM
Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, has a $327 million dollar budget deficit, and $14 billion dollars more in long-term debt. In March, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager to oversee Detroit’s troubled finances, making it the largest city in the U.S. under state supervision. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some difficult decisions about the city’s expenses need to be made to avoid bankruptcy, casting doubt over the future of public employee pensions and health care plans.
Kane Farabaugh
Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, has a $327 million dollar budget deficit, and $14 billion more in long-term debt.  In March, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager to oversee Detroit’s troubled finances, making it the largest city in the U.S. under state supervision. 

Some difficult decisions about the city’s expenses need to be made to avoid bankruptcy, casting doubt over the future of public employee pensions and health care plans.
 
Don Taylor spent 26 years of his life as a police officer in Detroit, the city where he was born and raised. It was a dangerous job, but one he is fond of. 
 
It also provided a dependable paycheck, as well as a guaranteed pension and health care coverage in retirement.  Or so he thought. “There’s a dispute on the pensions, you know," he said. 
 
“Borrowing a billion dollars to fund your pension, yes the pension is funded, but now it’s done through more debt," said Eric Scorsone of Michigan State University. He is on the team helping the city of Detroit emerge from its fiscal crisis.
 
“It’s probably as bad as any city has ever seen in terms of a fiscal crisis. My part is to work on tax and revenue forecasting and tax issues in general for the city as they work on a plan to move forward," he said. 
 
The plan includes figuring out how to pay for retirement pensions funded with borrowed money, and how to pay for health care plans for current and retired public sector employees.
 
“The city really should be paying hundreds of millions of dollars more than it is right now, but there’s no money to do it, so the question is how do you fund that liability or do you reduce the liability by reducing benefits," said Scorsone. 
 
Taylor says the pensions and health care plans of retirees are already modest.
 
“There are a lot of misconceptions too that in the city of Detroit, that the people’s benefits are “Cadillac” plans, and they’re overpaid, where the average pension is only $30,000," he said. 
 
“I cannot believe that they could do any more cutting," said retired Detroit police officer Greg Trozak, who has two sons on the police force.  While he is concerned about cuts to his own benefits, he is more worried about future benefits.
 
“I’m sure the active people are going to be hurting a lot more than a lot of us retirees are," he said. 
 
“The elected officials in the city of Detroit should have seen this reduction in revenue coming, and should have seen that the population was declining years ago and should have adjusted for that, but they failed to do so. Now it’s resting on the backs of the employees and retirees," said Taylor. 
 
The clock is ticking to turn Detroit’s finances around.  Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has less than eighteen months to make difficult decisions that would bring about the Motor City’s eventual solvency.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More