May 8, 2009

Senate Republicans put office budgets ahead of public safety

LANSING – Senate Republicans had an opportunity to save some the jobs of some of the 80 Michigan state Troopers who will be laid off because of an Executive Order approved by the Senate and House Appropriations Committees earlier this week that cut $350 million front the current state budget that only has five months left, but they chose to keep the extra $3.5 million for themselves.

The Democrats tried to discharge Senate Resolution 15, sponsored by Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, from committee for a second time Thursday, but it was again defeated along party lines, 21-16. The resolution would set the office budgets the same for both Republicans and Democrats. Under the current situation, GOP Senate offices have five full-time staffers, but Democrats only have three. Over in the Democratic controlled House, each office has the same amount of staffers; two in each office, regardless of party. The money saved would go to the State Police Budget.

“Certainly, you Republicans can serve and operate your office budgets on the same amount in which we Democrats serve our constituents,” Whitmer said. “These are challenging times, and the Senate should show some leadership and step up on behalf of public safety in the state of Michigan.”

Why are constituents who live in the 21 Michigan Senate Districts represented by Republicans deserve better service than the 16 – currently – districts represented by Democrats? That was the simple question asked by Senate Minority Leader Buzz Thomas, D-Detroit.

“I see no reason why the Senator from Kentwood should have more money to represent his constituents as the Senator from the City of Detroit,” Thomas said. “That just doesn’t make sense. Are my constituents any different? I don’t think so.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, by far the most bombastic and partisan lawmaker in Lansing, made the claim that the GOP needed the two extra employers because the GOP is in the majority, and they are committee chairs. He never explained why the Democrats who control the House have the same amount of staffers as the minority Republicans. Even if the disparity was three staffers to four instead of five, there would be enough money to keep at least 21 troopers.

He then tried the ridiculous tack that the House Democrats have bigger office budgets, and that the Senate Democrats – and Whitmer - should also go to Washington, D.C. and tell them what to do.

“Well, I would suggest that maybe she walk across the rotunda and tell the Speaker of the House to equalize everyone’s budget over there,” Cropsey said. “I would suggest that maybe she go to Washington, D.C., where the Democrats have total dictatorial powers and suggest to them that maybe they ought to start playing fair and not do partisanship.”

But Thomas pointed out that even if the budgets in the House were equal like they were in 2006 when Democrats took control of the House, it would only saved $200,000 instead of $3.5 million.

“Well, the House already has acted, and the disparity that exists there is about $200,000 for 110 members, and out of our 37 members, $3.5 million,” Thomas said. “That, to me, sounds outrageous. It sounds like crocodile tears being cried on the other side.”

That was a view held by the Michigan State Troopers Association (MSPTA).

"The Troopers Association has tremendous concerns regarding the effect these layoffs will have on all of public safety," said MSPTA Vice President Christopher Luty, according to subscription only MIRS. "We appreciate that our lawmakers are willing to consider any measure that will keep our troopers working."

To avoid further embarrassment, the Senate Republicans used their majority to push a measure that will not allow the Resolution to be taken up until Dec. 31. It will remain in the Committee on Government Operations and Reform, where bills go to die because it rarely meets.

The executive order approved Tuesday was the result of the Governor working with the legislative leaders in the House and Senate. The cuts include across the board cuts to every state department of at least 4 percent, cutting more than 200 state jobs, requiring at least six unpaid furlough days by state workers and cuts to local governments of more than $41 million.


Not Anonymous said...

Governor Jenny Recession Granholm signs an executive order to lay off over 80 state troopers and it becomes the Republicans fault? That's a stretch even for you.

You've compared the House to the Senate, but you never compared the Senate under Republican control, to the Senate under Democrat control. I wonder if the Democrats had five staff compared to three with the Republicans when the Democrats held the Senate. I guess I'll have to look that up myself since you didn't compare apples to apples.

But, because you didn't compare apples to apples, I'll just bet that the Democrats did have more staff than Republicans which means you want equality when you don't have control, but you don't give what you want when you have control.

I wonder if that's what Thomas and Cropsey meant when they told the Democrats to go the House or to Washington DC and tell them. No, it couldn't be that easy. You'd have surely mentioned it in your piece if that was the case.

I'd love to hear your definition of bi-partisan under Democrat control, but alas, you won't give your true belief on bi-partisanship until you have control over the Senate.

The bottom line is, you're whining again.

Communications guru said...

So, the national recession is Gov. Granholm’s fault? Amazing. I had no idea state governors had so much power. I never said it was the Republicans fault that 80 troopers are being laid off.

Here’s the thing about an appropriations EO: It can not be enacted just by the Governor’s signature. It must be approved by the House and Senate appropriations committee, which occurred, to be enacted. Since the House and Senate are controlled by different parties, this was worked out between the governor, the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader before it reached the committee.

Well, you will have to go back to 1983 to find out how many staff members the Democrats had when they controlled the Senate. But I was comparing apples to apples. House Republicans and House Democrats represent the same number of people, just like Senate Repubs and Senate Dems. Why can the House do it with the same amount of staffers but not the Senate? Hell, let the Senate GOP have more staffers, but maybe just one more instead of two.

Even if the Senate Democrats had five staffers in 1983 and the GOP only had three, the situation in 2009 is more unique. We are in the worst recession since the 1930s. Let them have their five staffers when the tax revenues improve, but for now, why not make a sacrifice?

Thomas never said anything about Washington. How much power does Cropsey think a state lawmaker has? They have no control over the federal government.

The bottom line is everyone else in the state is making a sacrifice. Why can’t Senate Republicans?

Not Anonymous said...

First, I didn't say Jenny "national Recession" Granholm. She's presided over a one state recession for over five years before the country went into a recession.

Second, when you compare the House to the Senate, you're comparing apples and oranges. What the House does and did under each control in the past compared to the present is comparing apples and apples. Comparing the Senate controlled by Republicans, to the last time the Senate was controlled by Democrats is comparing apples to apples.

Thus far, the only ones that have made a sacrifice in this state is the people. Government has not sacrificed at all. The State Police post political payoff by Granholm that nobody wants is still going forward with $4 million payment coming up. Where's her sacrifice? Where's Joel Fergusons' sacrifice? The only sacrifice was a forced sacrifice by the people when the government imposed an increased tax on the people, but did nothing to reign in their spending.

Third, this is not the worst recession since the 30's. That's the socialist democrat and liberal media talking point. This is almost as bad as the Carter recession. Double digit interest rates. Double digit inflation. Double digit unemployment. We aren't there yet. Carters recession is the worst since the 30's. This one still pales in comparison, but fear not, it's likely that we'll see huge inflation at the rate the government is printing money, and unemployment has now reached 8.9% nationwide. I'm sure when Michigan's comes out it will show higher than the 12.6% it was last time.

I know, you disagree. I don't care if you disagree. A simple comparison of the recession in the late 70's and early 80's to today, is all the proof that is needed.

Communications guru said...

Ah, you’re going to play word games, brett. We are in a recession and have been for some time, brett. You were the one who continuously denied it. That “one state recession” is just a Republicans talking point, and Michigan’s economy has always been first to tank during a national downturn. The loss of millions of manufacturing jobs under Bush had a lot to do with Michigan’s largest employer losing market share and teetering in the brink of bankruptcy; and one already there.

No, I’m not comparing “apples and oranges.” Every member of the Senate, regardless of party, represents the same number of people. Every member of the House, regardless of party, represents the same number of people. The Senate Republicans need five to do it; Senate Democrats have three to do it. The House, both parties, is doing it with two. Please explain to me how that is not comparing “apples to apples.”

You’re right, “the only ones that have made a sacrifice in this state is the people.” Guess what, the government is the people, including state employees. The state police HQ is jut a talking point.

Wrong, we are in the worst recession since the 1930’s. According to Federal Reserve System’s Economic Synopses ( “the magnitude of the current recession could be the most severe in decades, perhaps comparable to the Great Depression.” Once again, brett, there is no such thing as a “socialist Democrat” or “socialist” liberal in this country, and that is a fascist Republican talking point.