Category Archives: State Legislature
Huzzah. In the Elections of 2010 all across the country, voters elected GOP members with the expectation that they would help fix the jobs and overspending issues in America. Instead, they decided it would be a good idea to crusade against the rights of everyday Americans, like the recent campaign to get rid of collective bargaining- a basic right of hardworking public sector union members to ensure a decent wage and a safe working environment. They also attacked women’s rights, with national efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that works to help many rights that women had fought for through centuries. Now, the assault is on domestic partnerships.
The GOP-led Congress in Michigan has attempted to strip away benefits those in the LGBT community have enjoyed in the state through a bill called SCR9. While the bill passed the Senate, 11 Democrats were needed in the House to defect from the party line and vote for this. Luckily, Democrats (save two defections) were able to stave off this blatant assault on gay rights. Unfortunately, the Republicans seem hell-bent on ramming this legislation through, so this is going to require a watchful eye on the part of all progressives. For now, however, benefits have been saved for domestic partners- a victory for human rights and the progressive movement.
Over the past few months, AcaDems, our committee on education policy, has been working on a policy proposal for how to fully fund higher education. On Tuesday, they will head up to Lansing to show this proposal to our legislators and encourage them to stop the cuts to higher education.
The full report is now online (you can read it here). For more information about AcaDems, email co-chair Zach Martin (zamartin @ umich.edu) and Amanda Caldwell (ahcaldwe @ umich.edu).
Time to test the whole reinvention thing…
Today the US Census bureau announced the happy news that Michigan suffered a .06% drop in population over the past decade and will, therefore, lose a Congressional seat. We can thank a poor economy, old people, old-people-in-Florida, and young-affluent-couples-not-having-children for causing Michigan to be the ONLY state to have a population decrease in a country that saw a 9.7% national increase since 2000.
Bloggers and political nerds will now respond with craftily drawn maps slicing and dicing Michigan into odd shapes that either greatly benefit the GOP or the Democratic Party, either way the only map that matters is the one the Republican DOMINATED Michigan House and Senate send to Governor-elect Rick Snyder’s desk.
Rick Snyder, a man who ran on both reinvention of the economy and government, must now decide how much a champion of reform he wishes to be. Both California and Florida have are examples of reinvention and innovation in reform efforts that demand districts be drawn without consideration of incumbency or party, and are contiguous and intact. Additionally, Snyder ran as “not a politician,” while partisan redistricting is one of the most political undertakings our country undergoes.
The question remains, will Governor-elect Snyder bend to the pressure of his party and sign a highly partisan redistricting plan that would easily pave the way for future Republican victories, or will he demand a bold plan based on a set of ethical principles that reinvent redistricting in reMichigan.
Join the College Democrats for the 4th Annual Pancake Breakfast with special guests Congressman John Dingell and Debbie Dingell THIS SATURDAY from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Arbor Brewing Company.Â Tickets are available for purchase HERE.
For more information about the event, read the press release after the jump.Â We hope to see you there! (more…)
Earlier this week, a new plan for tuition in the state was introduced by State Senator Alma Wheeler Smith and our very own State Representative Rebekah Warren. They are proposing a refundable tax credit to pay for all tuition for students who graduate from Michigan high schools with family incomes below 107,000 dollars. For those between 107 and 127 thousand, a portion of tuition is paid and above 123 thousand, people pay their own. The plan would be paid for by a 1.15% increase in the income tax.
I was able to talk to Senator Smith about this and she was really excited about her legislation. Part of the problem in the state is that with this many people losing their jobs, they are not able to afford the costs of higher education. This gets around that issue and ensures that everybody would be able to afford state schools. It is a rather bold and visionary plan to deal with tuition issues and I really like it.
The fly in the ointment of course is the Republicans. They will be wildly against this plan as it pays for everything with this tax increase. To quote the first commenter on the MLive article:
The taxpayers of Michigan are already drowning in tax overload.The majority of school funding comes from real estate taxes.How can we afford any more taxes?Smith and Warren and any other politicians that vote for this should be kicked out of office!!!!!
Even if it does not pass, at least it can help bring some attention to this important issue and hopefully move the discussion towards a place where something like this could pass some day. Michigan needs some kind of radical change and this could be it.
Governor Granholm & Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop: Awkward
This week Michigan House Republicans presented their plan to solve the State’s budget problems: cut state worker salaries. They proposed cutting state the salaries of 52,000 state employees by 5% and reduce the benefits for retirees. Additionally, they called for a 5% across the board cut in state spending.
This plan is completely shameful for two reasons.
1) Asking state employees to accept a 5% cut in their salaries is highly hypocritical considering not a single House Republican will voluntary return a percentage of their own income, as Governor Granholm does.
Granholm, a Democrat, has returned 5 percent or 10 percent of her $177,000 salary every year since taking office in 2003 as Michigan has struggled with a weak economy and ongoing budget problems. She recently urged other elected officials to do the same, especially lawmakers since they have so much say in the state budget.
Not a single House Republican has returned any portion of his or her income. How can you ethically ask the people that clean up our parks, guard our prisons, and pave our roads to take a cut in pay when you yourself refuses to even consider the notion.
2) A 5% cut across the board is fundamentally the worst plan that could be proposed to fix our state budget. Across The Board cuts class funding from efficient programs, thus making making them inefficient, and fails to fix inefficient programs. These cuts allow inefficient programs to continue to exist, but in a small form.
In a recession good government programs are essential to creating and economic turn around, but wantonly slashing funding merely handicaps these programs.
Partaking in a bipartisan effort to address inefficient programs in a direct manner addresses the problem and will hopefully bring about reform to programs that desperately need it.
Thank god for independent boards of regents.Â But a few malicious and bizarrely sex-a-phobic Georgia state legislators plan on slashing university funding unless their universities cancel classes like “Sexuality and Society” and “Queer Theory” and fire the professors who teach them.Â What’s bizarre here is not that these legislators have an unatural fear of sexual activity and sexual minorities – that’s all too common.Â What’s bizarre is that the legislators refuse to allow students to learn that such people and behaviors exist even if they, in their infinite backwater wisdom don’t approve of them.
Fortunately for us, there is barely any state funding left for Michigan to cut.
Above, UM Dems rally in solidarity with GEO. Below, Patrick (of GEO) writes a love letter oversimplified editorial to the UM College Democrats and Campus.
On page 34B of the farce masquerading as her higher education budget proposal, Gov. Jennifer Granholm proposed a 3-percent budget cut to state universities.
In the next paragraph, playing the worldâ€™s smallest violin, she beseeched colleges to freeze their tuition rates in light of â€œdifficult economic timesâ€ for students and families.
Apparently Granholmâ€™s bargain for universities is â€œDonâ€™t raise tuition and, in exchange, weâ€™ll cut your aid.â€ I suppose she also expects universities to maintain their quality of instruction and research, too.
Governor, I want a unicorn, but that doesnâ€™t mean I can get one.
Aside from state officialsâ€™ impossible dreams, historical analysis shows something more pernicious at work. Instead of making reasonable appropriations to support higher education, Michigan has quietly shifted the cost of higher education from the state to students.
Using data from the University of Michiganâ€™s Office of Budget, I calculated the percentages of the University systemâ€™s general fund revenues provided by state funding and tuition since the turn of the century. In 2001-02, tuition dollars made up 54 percent of general fund revenues. This school year, they make up 64 percent. In contrast, the stateâ€™s contribution to the University has slipped from 34 percent to 24 percent. These trends do not reflect runaway spending increases at the University; they reflect reductions in Lansingâ€™s contribution.
Adjusting funding totals for inflation with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics makes the picture bleaker. To put it in starker terms, the governor has proposed $362.1 million in funding to the University system in 2009-10. If state funding kept up with inflation, the system would get $511.3 million. Undergraduates and their families will have to pay higher tuition to bridge that $149.2 million gap.
No matter how the numbers get sliced, they demonstrate the wholesale gutting of higher education funding during the last decade. The state of Michigan has abdicated its responsibility to make a good college education accessible to all residents who have the talent for it.
In calling for a tuition freeze, Granholm cynically hopes to shift responsibility and outrage for the stateâ€™s own shortcomings to state universities to raise tuition.
But the numbers donâ€™t lie. Politicians do â€” and weâ€™re paying for it.
Fallout continues from the Governor’s budget betrayal.Â Wait for the same things to happen at U-M.
Budget proposal fallout: MSU board warns of tuition hikes