BAY CITY, Mich. - Teachers union officials in Bay City say that a proposal to cut off vision and dental benefits of long-term teachers who don't retire by Oct. 1 is unfair, according to The Bay City Times.

Kevin Stapish of the Bay City Education Association told The Times that, "It is wrong to choose between early retirement and the benefits they've been promised and are looking forward to."

The proposal by Gov. Jennifer Granholm offers about 46,000 public employees — 39,000 of them teachers — a pension boost if they have worked at least 30 years and agree to retire by October, according to the report. By replacing them with fewer employees, who would earn beginning wages, the Granholm administration estimated the state could save up to $450 million, The Times reported.

Those who do not retire would lose dental and vision benefits upon retirement and would begin contributing an additional 3 percent to their retirement fund, according to The Times. Newly hired teachers would have to pay a minimum of 20 percent toward their health care premiums.

"Something had to be done with the retirement system," said Douglas Newcombe, interim superintendent for Bay City Public Schools, told The Times. "If rates continue to go up, like they're projecting, schools won't be able to cover it."

The Bay City Times, "Bay City union calling Granholm's teacher retirement-enhancement unfair," Feb. 11, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Tax more? Spend less? Reform first?"