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Detroit Pensioners On The Clock To Decide Fate Of ‘Grand Bargain’

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Gov. Rick Snyder speaks about the passage of the Grand Bargain. (Credit/Michigan Gov)

Gov. Rick Snyder speaks about the passage of the Grand Bargain. (Credit/Michigan Gov)

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DETROIT (WWJ) — Thousands of Detroit retirees and city employees must have their ballots on the city’s plan of adjustment in the bankruptcy case turned in by Friday.

The plan includes the Grand Bargain in which foundations, the state, and the DIA have pledged $816 million dollars to reduce the cuts to pensions. AFSCME Council 25 president Al Garrett said that it’s not a great deal, but the best deal they could get.

“I think they’re gonna do what’s prudent for them and it’ll pass,” Garrett said.

A California company will tabulate the ballots and it must receive them by 5 p.m. on Friday.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation committing $195 million to help push the city through bankruptcy and protect pensions. 

An effort by deep-pocketed philanthropists to save the bankrupt city of Detroit’s art treasures began with a chance meeting last year and culminated Friday when Snyder signed the bill, known as the “Grand Bargain.”

State Senator Bert Johnson said it was a long, hard process pushing those final bills through the Michigan legislature.

“The governor’s gone out on a limb here to try to get something done,” Johnson said. “I was happy to join him because he and I both represent the same constituents; and those are people who are pensioners, both present and past, of the city of Detroit who were really being threatened with losing just about all that they had worked for over the years and had been promised in retirement.”

The state’s contribution of $195 million, along with $366 million from foundations and a $100 million pledge from the Detroit Institute of Arts, would replace hundreds of millions being cut from retiree pensions, while stopping bond insurers and other creditors from forcing the sell-off of city-owned art such as Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait.” The money would come over 20 years, placing the value at about $816 million.

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