Jun 12, 2009
Garcia’s military commitment mocked by Majority Leader for disagreeing with him
LANSING – It’s not often that a Senate Republican strays from what the Senate Majority Leader tells them to say or do and actually exercises some independence, but Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Howell, does on occasion. He did so on Thursday and received a stinging public rebuke from the Majority Leader.
The Senate passed some budget bills for the 2010 budget year that begins Oct 1. Those budget bills included the Veterans Affairs, Transportation and Agriculture. Sessions are usually no more than an hour, but Thursday’s session ran for almost seven hours.
Garcia, chair of the Appropriations sub-committee that sets the spending plan for the Michigan State Police (MSP) budget, criticized Senate leadership for not taking up that budget, Senate Bill 253, saying Senate leadership's decision to hold his subcommittee's version of next year's MSP spending plan “was a mistake." Garcia has the worst attendance record in the Senate, but he says he misses so many days because of his military obligations with the Michigan National Guard where he serves as a commissioned officer.
Garcia made a statement on the Senate floor as session wrapped up, saying there was some "confusion" within the chamber about passing the bill and saving 104 state trooper jobs in the current year budget. He was upset the bill would not be moved that because he would be gone for the next two weeks because he leaves to attend the Army War College in Carlisle, Penn.
That step out of line drew a sharp rebuke from Majority Leader Mike Bishop’s mouthpiece Matt Marsden, who said, "If anyone in the caucus is confused on the status of the State Police budget, it's the senator from Howell," he said. "So allow me to clarify the Senate's position. The Legislature will all be at work in Lansing next week doing what the citizens elected us to do. Fear not, the senators in attendance are perfectly capable of resolving the MSP budget while Senator Garcia tends to whatever it is that requires his attention on this occasion.”
I’ll give Garcia the benefit of the doubt on this one because I know him personally. I do not agree with him on much, but I know he has an admirable respect for the military. I can’t say the same thing for Marsden and Bishop.
The 104 state troopers will be laid off July 1, as per the Governor’s May 5 Executive Order approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committee. According to subscription only MIRS, as it stands now, the MSP budget would need to be moved when Garcia isn't in session or after he returns. However after June 25, the Senate isn't scheduled to return from summer recess until July 14 at the earliest.
The good news is that the House Appropriations Committee moved a supplemental spending bill on Wednesday that saves the trooper’s jobs. The committee used the money from the state’s commercial mobile radio service supplier’s fund, but the money in that fund will be replaced from federal funds earmarked for that.