MLive.com reports that the Michigan Supreme Court has upheld a lower courts’ determination that the 3% of teachers’ salaries collected between 2010 and 2013 for healthcare in retirement was in fact illegal and should be refunded.

The funds were originally collected per a 2010 statute that required the contributions. When lawsuits emerged about the funds, they were placed in escrow and now total $550 million.

Multiple courts heard arguments on the case before it ended up with the state’s Supreme Court. Arguments were given orally in November. The high court agreed in its order that the collection of the funds was unconstitutional. It also stated that a 2012 law that was passed was in fact constitutional, but did not apply retroactively to the funds collected before that time.

The state’s governor, Rick Snyder, argued vehemently against returning the funds, even after Attorney General Bill Schuette dropped the case.

MLive also reported that private attorneys hired for the case will cost the state a total of $196,082. The original suits were filed by the American Federation of Teachers Michigan and Michigan Education Association, among others.

In the court’s ruling, it agreed that the collection of the money impaired employee wage contracts. The funds will begin to be refunded in 2018 and reviewed by the American Federation of Teachers Michigan.

Lonnie Scott of Progress Michigan released the following statement on the matter: “Elected officials like Rick Snyder, Brian Calley, and Bill Schuette have tormented teachers for too long with these games in court…Today, educators took back the pay that was rightfully theirs and we applaud them for sticking it out for so long and standing up for their rights. The Snyder administration wasted time and resources trying to take money away from teachers and Bill Schuette backed the efforts until the case was on death’s doorstep at the Supreme Court. This case is another example of how at the highest level of Republican leadership in the state there is an assault on public education,” reports MLive.

*Photo credit Emily Lawler/ MLive.com