Bills restore Michigan Works! UPward Talent Agency funding for western U.P.

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation introduced in the state Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday would restore $971,000 in state resources to help cover a shortfall in retirement funding for the Michigan Works! UPward Talent Agency.

Sen. Ed McBroom and Rep. Greg Markkanen introduced identical supplemental bills in the Senate and House.

“Local officials have been working for years to call attention to this pension issue, and it is time that the state stepped up to fulfil its obligation to them,” said McBroom, R-Vulcan. “I appreciate that my colleagues recognized the need to correct this problem previously through the budget process, and I hope to gain their support of this funding once again with support from the governor this time around.”

The agency provides services and support to the U.P.’s workforce development system. However, its pensions were left unfunded when the three separate agencies merged into one. Other agencies across the state have had their stranded costs for the state employees funded. The western six U.P. counties were left responsible for what was initially about $600,000, but it continues to grow each year.

“We were really disappointed that the governor vetoed this funding last year because of her position to increase road taxes versus the merits of this specific funding,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “It’s our hope that having a specific supplemental bill for this issue will highlight the importance of it for the western U.P. and these state employees.”

Senate Bill 727 was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and House Bill 5376 was referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

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