LANSING - Michigan
Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced his office has filed a lawsuit
against the Michigan Civil Service Commission challenging the constitutionality
of its decision to grant state health benefits to unrelated adults and their
dependants who live with some state employees, which will cost state taxpayers
millions of dollars at a time the state faces a massive budget deficit. The
Commission adopted the policy over the objection of Governor Rick Snyder, who
asked that the Commission reject the policy in light of current budgetary
Snyder is right. This unconstitutional use of authority is costing the
taxpayers millions at a time when they can least afford it," said Schuette.
lawsuit has the support of Michigan's legislative leadership, including Senate
Majority Leader Randy Richardville and Speaker of the House Jase Bolger.
"In the face
of a $1.8 billion budget deficit, the ruling of the Civil Service Commission
comes at a time when Michigan can least afford to increase costs," said Senate
Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe). "Recently, I joined with my
colleagues in the Senate to vote to reject this ruling by the CSC. I fully
support the Attorney General in his efforts to pursue this matter."
"The Civil Service Commission has repeatedly and
irresponsibly shown disregard for the Constitution, fiscal reality and the will
of the voters," said House Speaker Jase Bolger
"I have discussed this issue on several occasions with Attorney General
Schuette to seek legal avenues for reining in these out-of-control officials.
I'm very pleased the Attorney General is pursuing this lawsuit and fully support
his efforts to bring accountability into a broken system."
benefits extension granted by the Civil Service Commission on January 26, 2011
is estimated to cost taxpayers at least $8 million in the first year alone.
According to the policy, a State employee's co-resident is eligible for State
health care benefits if (1) the State employee does not have a spouse, (2) the
co-resident is at least 18 years of age, (3) the co-resident is not a member of
the employee's family, and (4) the co-resident shares the same residence as the
State employee for at least 12 months and is not a tenant, boarder, renter or
filed today by Schuette in Ingham County Circuit Court calls for a permanent
injunction against the implementation of the policy because the Michigan Civil
Service Commission's decision to extend the health care benefits violates the
Michigan Constitution in two ways:
1) The decision exceeds the Constitutional authority granted
to the Commission. The Michigan Constitution grants authority for the
Commission to establish compensation rates for State employees. It does not
empower the Commission to compensate or otherwise provide benefits to non-family
members or non-employees.
decision violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Michigan Constitution.
By arbitrarily granting state health plan eligibility exclusively to
"non-family" adults and their dependents, the Commission has violated the equal
protection rights of actual family members and their dependents not eligible
under the plan. If an unmarried state employee lives with a sibling or a
cousin, for example, that relative is not eligible for health benefits, yet such
benefits are available to any non-family member.
The Civil Service Commission will have 21 days to file a formal response with
the Court. The policy is scheduled to go into effect on October 1, 2011.