A Challenge for Michigan

There can be no doubt that any attempt to curtail MESSA will be a call-to-arms for the MEA. The union relies on MESSA as a way of controlling loyalty to the union; MEA members believe that they cannot obtain generous insurance benefits through MESSA without the MEA's sponsorship of the program. The MEA cannot afford to lose this control mechanism. Both MESSA and the MEA have the necessary resources to fight any attempt at restraining the MESSA operation. The MEA can manipulate many public officials through campaign contributions and political pressure, and MESSA has enough financial reserves to pay for legal services, lobbying staff, and other programs necessary to combat its opposition. Moreover, MESSA can recuperate the costs of self-defense by increasing premium rates, inducing more illegitimate taxpayer support.

Where does this leave taxpayers and school districts who do not have a powerful political mechanism for defending their interests? The MEA's political influence and lobbying funds will give it the strength to wage a battle in defense of MESSA. The only way Michigan's citizens and school districts can win is by resisting the union's political tactics, by openly voicing their concerns, and by heaping their own pressure on state legislators. Of course, success would require that public servants act in the best interest of parents and other taxpayers and steadfastly resist the MEA opposition. Identifying the problems of MESSA is not difficult; standing up to the MEA is.