Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says it will be up to Gov. Rick Snyder to hire his own lawyer if the administration pursues an appeal of a court decision. It says the state owes roughly $550 million to teachers for illegally withholding 3 percent of their paychecks to fund retirement health benefits that weren’t guaranteed.
Andrea Bitely of the attorney general’s office says the state isn’t likely to win in the end, and if Gov. Snyder wants to appeal, he’ll have to go it alone.
“In this case, we’ve reviewed the decision and made the determination that we will not be providing legal counsel,” she said.
Bitely says Schuette would name Snyder’s choice from a private law firm to be a special assistant attorney general on the state payroll to deal with this specific case.
Anna Heaton is the governor’s press secretary. She says that’s what will happen because the state needs that money.
“It’s about the stability of the system,” she said. “Michigan has a pattern of having unfunded liabilities, so this is a liability that’s going to be funded.”
Teachers unions filed the lawsuit after the law was passed in 2010 and signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder then amended the law after the state lost early court battles.
But this is not the only time Snyder and Schuette have parted ways on legal strategy. Most recently, Snyder said he did not support Schuette’s decision to challenge federal pollution regulations. Meanwhile, Schuette’s investigators accused Snyder’s legal team of withholding information related to their inquiry into the causes of the Flint water crisis.