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.