Aug 16, 2009

Leadership for Freshman Caucus is lacking

Remember all the fuss last winter when the 46 new Michigan State Representatives took the oath of office because of term limits?

It was one of the largest classes of incoming freshman lawmakers in the history of the Legislature, and this group formed a Freshman Caucus to foster friendship and cooperation that would address the problems facing Michigan. They even signed a pledge to cooperate even when they disagree. Livingston County’s own Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, was elected as the co-chair of the bipartisan caucus.

That pledge appears to be worth no more than the paper it was printed on. Veteran political correspondent Tim Skubick calls out one of the largest caucuses in the House as Michigan faces a budget crisis eerily similar to the budget mess in 2007.

In a column in the online magazine Dome, Skubick says they have failed to assert any influence on the closed-door negotiations between the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader. Sen. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, is doing the same thing he did in 2007; telling the press he will not consider a revenue increase, but privately, he says he will support it if the Democrats take the heat again.

"Senator Bishop, it’s time to stop negotiating out of both sides of your mouth. For public consumption you demand that the budget be balanced with cuts and no new taxes, yet quietly behind the scenes you’ve given the green light to your minions to negotiate a possible revenue raising deal with the governor," Skubick wrote.

Skubick also has harsh words for Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, but he cannot question their honesty like he does Bishop.

He also calls out the freshman for the summer work schedule, but I disagree with part of that. He says, “the House has met one time since the first of July. That’s a six-week summer snooze.“ That’s simply not true. The House has met at least five times since July 1, and they have held committee hearings every day. The Senate has met twice and held no committee meetings.

However, Skubick did say there was some hope for the Freshman Caucus; at least the Democrats.

"There is one ray of hope. The bulk of the new Democrats demanded and got a closed-door meeting with two of the senior Democratic leaders, where they complained about the lackadaisical summer work schedule and griped about being left out of the loop on the budget. Major points for that. But the speaker did not attend. Major points off."

Maybe Rogers, a genuinely nice man, can organize a few more frames of bowling.


kevins said...

Well at least you mentioned some of Skubick's criticism of Granholm and Dillon.

But you left out his allegation that House Dems "shut out" Republicans from debating issues on the House floor.

If that's the way that the House Democratic majority is going to act, then what in the world can Bill Rogers do about it?

Your position seems to be that Democrats won't cooperate, and that's the fault of a freshman Republican.

Of course, I can see why Dems would have so much trouble cooperating. The Democratic Speaker of the House and the Democratic governor might as well be on different planets. How much respect does Dillon have for Granholm when he rolls out a major insurance proposal without her knowledge, much less input and consent?

Communications guru said...

I left out his “allegation that House Dems "shut out" Republicans from debating issues on the House floor” because it’s not true. That happened when Chris Ward and the Republicans controlled the House, but not now.

What’s Bill Rogers going to do about it? Simple. The same thing he has done since he took office: issue a press release.

Dillon’s health care proposal has nothing to do with the Governor because it was a surprise to the rest of the caucus as well.

kevins said...

I see. So everything that Skubick writes that fits your world view is the God's truth. And everything that goes against your bias must be a lie. How convenient.

When Skubick says that Dems are shutting out Reps on the House floor, I believe him. You've made it clear that you will always sacrifice truth in favor of partisan ranting.

Communications guru said...

I don’t know how you reached that conclusion, but you are wrong again. I never said it was a lie; I said it was untrue. Either he’s buying into what Republicans are telling him, or he is mistaken. I have seen and heard it with my own eyes and ears.

I suggest you take in a House session, or even take a look at the House Journals before you make that claim. Nothing can match the Chris Ward run House, where the minority party never even got a schedule of what the House was voting on. Like I said at Living Blue, at times, I have seen them decline to take record roll call votes on GOP amendments designed just to slow a bill down and waste time, but with 110 members, that’s a routine measure and has nothing to do with debate.

Iosco Township said...

In fact Mr. Skubick did question the integrity of Speaker Dillon. He said:

“Speaker Dillon, shame on you for proposing a dramatic plan to reinvent the public employee public health system but failing to include anybody else, including us, in the formulation. And while we are at it, the freshman class thinks it is unconscionable that your party has shut out Republicans from debating issues on the House floor. Can you say “fairness?””

Perhaps not to the same extent, but he did.

But remember the freshmen went bowling together.