Oct 29, 2009

Video highlights Griffin’s bipartisan support

Supporters of Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson, have been working hard to make up for the massive amount of money spent by his opponent to buy the vacant seat in the 19th state Senate seat with hard work.

Although Griffin does not have the money to buy TV time like his opponent, the campaign has put together an excellent video that really displays the wide and bipartisan support Griffin has. It talks about his values with some of his many supporters, and it does not attack or push lies like his opponent’s TV ads do.

Some of the money used to purchase the false TV ads came from the biggest GOP benefactor, the DeVos family. The attempt by Dick DeVos to buy the governorship in 2006 failed, so they are trying to purchase a Senate seat.

“This is politics as usual for the DeVos family,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. “They’ve sent our jobs to China and now they’re sending them to Costa Rica at a time when our state can least afford it. Now they’re giving money to Mike Nofs, who will protect their interests in Lansing and will help to send Michigan jobs overseas.”

The campaign and volunteers are hard at work at the all important “get-out-the-vote” effort. The conventional wisdom is that elections are won by the candidate who gets his people to the polls, and they can use your help over the next five days.

Call (517) 392-0800 or (269) 425-4333 to help.

Sen. Scott vows not to give up the fight for fairness

For almost seven years, Sen. Martha G. Scott, D-Highland Park, has fought against the practice known as insurance “redlining.” Redlining means an insurance company refuses to insure an auto or home based solely on the geographic area where the person lives, provides an inferior product based on geography or at a higher price.

Every session day, Sen. Scott has gotten up and given a speech, urging the majority party to move her bills. It went without saying that the plea included a committee hearing with testimony from the people hurt by redlining and an honest debate.

That didn’t happen, and the bill was discharged from committee Wednesday with no hearing or advance notice just to be defeated. The following is Sen. Scott’s statement following the devastating vote.

You may have heard already that in a surprise vote, the Senate on Wednesday defeated my bill to ban territorial rate setting for auto and home insurance.

The Republican defeat of my bill to prohibit the use of territories when setting auto and homeowner insurance rates is a slap in the face to all the hard-working citizens of Michigan who pay unfair, exorbitant insurance rates.

For years now I have been asking for action and hearings on my bills to reform auto and homeowner insurance rates in Michigan. Today the Senate Republicans decided to discharge my bill to ban rate setting by territories to the Senate floor only to then vote against this bill that would have made insurance rates fair for citizens across Michigan. This kind of game-playing has no place in the debate on this very important ‘pocketbook’ issue for Michigan citizens.

Senate Republicans discharged Senate Bill 166 after I rose to give my daily statement on insurance issues in which I referenced an October 14 Grand Rapids Press editorial that spoke out against the insurance industry’s use of credit scores to determine a person’s auto insurance rates. SB 166 would ban the practice of using where a person lives to determine how much their insurance would cost. Senate Republicans defeated an amendment that would have given everyone an immediate 20 percent cut in their rates, a provision that addressed Republican concerns that lower rates for citizens living in metro/urban areas would drive up rates for citizens living in other areas of the state.

If we are going to require that every driver carry auto insurance then we need to make sure that the rates they are charged are fair, and right now these rates are anything but fair. Insurance rates should be based on the car a person drives, that person’s driving record, and the distance that person regularly drives. If we adopted these common sense changes to our auto insurance laws then we would no longer pay the 12th highest rates in the country, and our citizens living in our metro/urban areas would no longer pay the highest rates in the country.

The insurance industry argues that one reason for setting rates by territory is because of the high rate of accidents or auto thefts in some areas of the state. However, the Michigan Auto Theft Prevention Authority reported in February that auto thefts in Detroit fell 14.2 percent from 2006 to 2007. Statewide, vehicle thefts have plummeted 42 percent since 1986. Yet insurance rates have not gone down.

Senate Republicans did a great injustice this week to all the hard-working Michigan families who are trying to survive in a very tough economy. My bill deserved thoughtful consideration: a committee hearing so that people could come in and testify followed by debate on the Senate floor. Instead the Republican voted my bill to the Senate floor so that they could defeat it and deny Michigan citizens fair and affordable auto insurance rates. My bill may have gone down to defeat but I will continue calling for auto insurance reform and fair rates for everyone.

Oct 27, 2009

Calling all cars: its crunch time in the 19th District

It’s crunch time. The Nov. 3 Special Election for the vacant seat in the 19th State Senate District is less than a week away, and Michigan and Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson, need our help.

The campaign is gearing up for the all important “get-out-the-vote,” and special elections are won by the candidate who gets his people to the polls. The Republicans are spending money like a drunken sailor to win the race, and as a former drunken sailor, I know of what I speak.

They are paying for volunteers, and you can’t turn on a Lansing or Jackson TV station and not see a TV commercial from the GOP opponent. He has at least two different commercials, and all are complete lies. He’s floating the lie that the new Michigan State Police building had something to do with the layoff of state Troopers. Expect that lie to be used next November, too. He’s also pushing the Cobo Hall tale, and he’s even trying to acciuse Griffin of voting for federal legislation.

The Griffin campaing is asking people to volunteer beginning on Friday to Election Day on Tuesday. They need people to go door-to-door, make phone calls or any other task needed.

Sign up today.

Monroe County Democrats mourn the loss of a dedicated and close friend

My friends at the Monroe County Democratic Party are grieving over the loss of their close friend and dedicated activitist Otis Henderson.

He suffered a very severe brain aneurysm on Wednesday evening. On Thursday, the doctors removed him from all equipment, except for the ventilator, and on Friday evening, the hospital staff removed Otis from the ventilator. However, he was such a young, strong man and a fighter that he did not pass away until 12:30 a.m. today.

A memorial account set up in Otis’ name at Fifth Third Bank. The family requests you provide the account number when making a donation to this fund. That account number is 9341471218. You can make a donation at any Fifth Third Bank branch nationwide, and the donation is in lieu of flowers. Funeral services are pending at Merkle Funeral Home in Monroe.

The leadership of the party is devastated because Otis was much more than a dedicated and dependable volunteer who showed up on any and every occasion, as well as photographing events for them, he was their close friend. The party is renaming the annual chili cook-off set for Nov. 21 in his honor, calling it the Annual Otis Henderson Memorial Chili Cook-Off.

I only interacted with Otis a few times, but he made you feel like you were old friends. I marched with him in the Monroe County Fair Parade in August and later that day volunteered with him at the party’s booth at the fair. I saw him again during the Labor Day dedication of the Monroe Labor Museum.

Don’t forget to make a donation in his memory at the Fifth Third Bank, account number 9341471218.

Oct 26, 2009

Another GOP false talking point bites the dust

Republicans have their favorite whipping boys and boogyman, and in Michigan, state employees are a bigger target than even ACORN.

However, their claim that state employees are overpaid and state government continues grow has already been debunked. In August, respected Michigan State University professor of economics Charles Ballard issued a report that said state employees earn less than their private-sector counterparts with comparable educational attainment. The report also confirmed what we already know: state government is smaller now than it was in 1973. But that hasn’t stopped Republicans, like the rightwing think tank Mackinac Center, from continuing to make the claim that state government is bloated and workers are overpaid.

Republicans have fudged a bit in the face of actual facts, and the new lie is that state workers aren’t making the same kinds of sacrifices the private sector is. An article in the Detroit News last week debunks that lie, and it found that state employees have been hit as hard or harder than private sector workers.

The report said, in fact, that state government is only about 80 percent of what it was at the beginning of this decade, and it’s going to get smaller.

“Michigan's eight-year recession has slashed one in six state workers and one in five state government dollars. Since 2000, the state has shed the equivalent of three auto assembly plants worth of workers -- a busload of employees taking their personal belongings and their last paychecks home every two weeks.”

Tourism has been one of the few bright spots in the Michigan economy as people come here to take advantage of the state’s beautiful and unique natural resources, yet the people who look after those valuable assets, the Department of Natural Resources, has 38 percent fewer employees than in 2000. Agriculture is another bright spot in Michigan, yet one in four Department of Agriculture employees is gone just since the beginning of the decade.

The caseload for Department of Human Services’ workers has risen more than 20 percent since 2000, but the department has lost more than 3,600 employees over that same period.

Demand for government services goes up during a recession because more people need help, yet those services are cut; a fact noted by Professor Ballard.

The Mackinac Center, of course, disagrees, and it claims - even in the face of those facts - that state government has grown during the recession. It says total spending from state resources is up 7 percent in the 2008-09 budget year than in 2001.

But the News debunked that, noting that:

“But those figures don't take into account inflation. While the state's total spending over the eight years increased 7 percent (reaching $27.5 billion in '08-'09), inflation during the same period was triple that (21.7 percent).

“When adjusted for inflation, total spending has decreased 14 percent. Spending from the general fund, the Legislature's main source of discretionary money, is down 21 percent. By comparison, Ohio's general fund was down less than 2 percent, and Indiana's increased 5 percent.”

Another GOP false talking point bites the dust.

Another day another report that says secondhand smoke kills

Just in case there was any doubt cast on the U.S. Surgeon General’s and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) conclusion that there is no safe amount of second smoke and that it kills, the nonprofit, nongovernmental Institute of Medicine (IOM) confirmed that with a report of its own that says the same thing.

Earlier this month, the IOM issues a report called “Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence.” The report concludes “smoking bans are effective at reducing the risk of heart attacks and heart disease associated with exposure to secondhand smoke.” Reports and evidence like this continue to come out almost monthly, but the Michigan Legislature continues to sit on their hands, making Michigan one of only 13 states who refuse to protect the majority of its citizens who do not smoke from deadly secondhand smoke.

"It's clear that smoking bans work," said Lynn Goldman, professor of environmental health sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and chair of the committee of experts that wrote the report. "Bans reduce the risks of heart attack in nonsmokers as well as smokers. Further research could explain in greater detail how great the effect is for each of these groups and how secondhand smoke produces its toxic effects. However, there is no question that smoking bans have a positive health effect."

I agree with the editorial board of the Jackson Citizen Patriot when it says:
“We hope lawmakers, who have toyed with a smoking ban the last couple of years, will take these findings seriously. Once they finish the drama with the overdue state budget, passing a ban ought to be their next order of business.”

Based on what the Legislature has been taking up in the last couple of weeks, like a bill allowing fuzzy dice to be hung on an automobile’s rear view mirror, they can find the time to pass something that has overwhelming and bipartisan support that protects the public health.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public. Established in 1970, the IOM is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which was chartered under President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

Oct 25, 2009

Push poll ignores the fact that the Governor was sent a school aid budget bill that was not properly funded

The rightwing noise machine went into high gear after Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed $54 million from House Bill 4447, the School aid funding bill.

The money was cut for the 40, 20J or “hold harmless districts” that have higher funding levels than other school districts. The Governor also cut $127 cut per student as part of a proration that was dictated by shrinking revenues.

One example was a push poll on rightwing radio station WBCK in Battle Creek. It asks: “Why did Governor Granholm cut funding to schools more than the budget required?”

It seems like a reasonable question, until you look at the answers the poll provided. The real answer is that the Governor was sent a bill that was not properly funded. According to subscription only Gongwers:

“State officials have estimated that, including the $100 million in new revenue not yet enacted, the School Aid Fund budget as passed will be short $264 million for the current fiscal year.”

Instead of having that as one of the possible answers, it has three answers that attempts to influence the reader; the very definition of a push poll. Here are the false answers they provided:

She believes the schools are over funded.

She is playing politics with our children’s lives.

She feels the money is more needed for social programs (i.e. welfare programs).

Obviously, none of those things are true, but one has to get the most votes; leading people to believe the top answer is true.

I used the station’s email contact to ask them to include a legitimate choice in the poll. I got an email from some guy named Rink. Apparently, he is a local host that goes on before the usual lineup of rightwing hatemongers like Limbaugh, Hannity, Neal Boortz and Dennis Miller.

After some seven emails from him, he ignored the request. He said he “double checked and triple checked the poll and it is correct,” and then he made the false claim that he provide a source.

Oct 23, 2009

Griffin stands up for Veterans

Concord resident Larry Root makes a great case for electing Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson, to the Michigan Senate in a letter-to-the-editor that appears in the Oct. 22 edition of the Jackson Citizen Patriot.
Root is also the Michigan Coordinator for the Missing in America Project, a nationwide effort with a mission to locate, identify and inter with honor every veteran languishing on a mortuary shelf. Root writes:

Griffin a true friend to our military veterans
I am writing to urge you to vote for Marty Griffin for State Senate. I am the state coordinator of the Missing in America Program, a national group that works to ensure our unclaimed veterans receive an honorable burial.
I contacted Marty's office to urge him to support legislation this state needed to make sure every veteran is properly taken care of. Marty went further; he introduced the legislation, which passed in the House last session. It has been reintroduced and is now in the Senate.
Marty Griffin listens to his constituents' concerns and is a true friend of veterans.

The bill in question was House Bill 6200, introduced by Griffin on June 4, 2008 and approved in the House with a vote of 107-0 on Sept. 18, 2008 and sent to the Senate. The bill would simply require funeral directors to screen for veteran status when a cremation order is signed. It died because the Senate refused to take it up before the two-year Legislative session expired; not a single committee hearing was held, nothing.

He reintroduced the bill on Feb. 17, 2009, and it was approved in the House on Feb. 24 by a vote of 106-1. Chuck Moss, R-Birmingham, cast the lone no vote. The bill is currently in the Senate Committee on Senior Citizens and Veterans Affairs where it is stuck again.

First, we need to elect a stand up guy like Griffin for who “Support the Troops” is more than a bumper sticker, and Democrats need to take control of the Senate so good Legislation can at least be considered. The special election to fill the vacant 19th District seat in the Senate is Nov. 3.

Oct 22, 2009

The TV airwaves are being filled with false attacks on Griffin

The TV airwaves are being filled with false attacks on Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson, as Nov. 3 Special Election for the vacant seat in the 19th State Senate District fast approaches.

The latest one continues the Republican false campaign issue of trying to claim the layoff of 100 State troopers earlier this year was because of the construction of the new Michigan State Police headquarters. That’s a blatant lie, but that has not stopped the GOP from using this.

The State Troopers were laid off because they refused to take the six furlough days like the rest of the 50,000 state employees to avoid layoffs, and in fact the MSP budget bill passed on Sept. 30 bring back some 54 troopers.

This new ad is even more blatant, and it focuses even more on the lie that the HQ led to trooper layoffs. Plus, it’s not paid for by the GOP candidate Mike Nofs. This false smear is paid for by some group called the “Michigan Jobs and Labor Foundation.”

I have no idea who that is, and I can’t find a web site for them or a campaign finance report. All I could find was a Lansing PO box listed for them via a Google search. There is also no You Tube video like the other ad.

The ad paid for and featuring Nofs, targets Griffin for his vote in favor of legislation that created a regional authority to run Cobo Center in Detroit, ending city control of the facility, and the appropriation of funds to help pay for the aging building's renovation.

There is no You Tube video of this lie either, but in the ad Nofs plays the boogeyman Detroit card that will excite the GOP base. In the ads he says that the rest of the state should not bail out Detroit because of the city's corrupt mismanagement of Cobo.

"We shouldn't be using our tax dollars to fund Detroit's corruption," Mr. Nofs says in the ad.

What Griffin did was save the North American International Auto Show. Officials with the auto show had warned that if changes were not made to the center, they could move the show to Chicago, Los Angeles or another city. The auto show is responsible for as much as $500 million in economic activity annually in southeast Michigan.

As for this alleged corruption, the package of four bipartisan bills will allow for a regional authority to lease the convention center in downtown in order to expand and improve the facility. In other words, sole control is taken away from the Detroit City Council and spread to officials in surrounding counties.

The bills, Senate Bills 586-588, were sponsored by Republicans. House Bill was sponsored by a Democrat. The bills had overwhelming support. The bills passed by votes of, respectively, 91-16, 31-1; 92-15, 32-1; 90-17, 32-1; and 93-14, 32-1. A lot of Republicans join Griffin in those votes.

Join the MSU College Democrats Sunday to make Michigan a better place

Join the Michigan State University College Democrats in Battle Creek this Sunday for a District Invasion to canvas on behalf of Rep. Martin Griffin, R-Jackson, in the race for the vacant 19th District seat in the State Senate.

To don’t have to be a College Democrat to participate in this important election less than two weeks away. Heck, you don’t even have to be a Democrat; just someone who cares about good government. The plan is to carpool from Spartan Stadium and spend the day canvassing.

The campaign can’t promise hotel accommodations like the Republican opponent is, or even booze like the GOP leadership does, but they are offering breakfast, lunch, a t-shirt and a chance to make Michigan a better place.

This is the first step in taking back the Senate like we did the House in 2006. The Republicans enjoy a thin 21-16 lead with the vacant seat, and they are pulling out all the stops to win it back. They see it as the first step in keeping control of the Senate in 2010. More people voted for Senate Democrats in 2006, but they gerrymandered the districts so badly, they kept control.

Griffin was first elected to the House in 2006 when Democrats took control of the House. Prior to that, Griffin served as the Mayor of Jackson from 1995 - 2006. Griffin has experience in government at all levels; local, state and federal. He served for 12 years as a staff member in the Michigan Legislature and five years with U.S. Rep. Carl Pursell.

Griffin also has a long list of accomplishments and involvement, including chairing the Jackson County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, a member of the Economic Development Corporation of Jackson, a member of the National Association of Realtors, a member of the City of Jackson Planning Commission, a Trustee of Ella Sharp Park Board, a Downtown Kiwanis member, Urban Core Mayors Group, Trustee for Police and Fire Pension Boards and on the Cascade Humane Society Capital Campaign.

Oct 21, 2009

Right-wing, anti-government fringe group holding anti-UN rally on government property

I thought this crap blew up with the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City 14 years ago, but apparently it’s making a comeback with the election of President Barack Obama.

The Michigan Militia is holding an anti-United Nations rally on Saturday afternoon on the steps of the Capitol in Lansing. It seems ironic that they are holding an anti-government rally on a government facility, but nothing about this right-wing group makes sense. Saturday is also UN Day, and it marks the anniversary of the adoption of the UN charter on 24 October 1945. It has traditionally been marked throughout the world by meetings, discussions and exhibits on the achievements and goals of the organization dedicated to international peace and security.

It’s obscene that a group dedicated to chaos and hate is marring that day. It’s also no coincidence that the Capitol rally is being advertised on the white supremacists web site. We saw this crap on display at the Astroturf “tea parties,” and this is basically just one more tea bagger episode.

Irrational anti-government groups like the so-called militia were at their peak until the 1995 terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City by militia sympathizer Timothy McVeigh. They had crawled back into their status as a fringe group after his views were exposed, but earlier this year the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning that violent, anti-government rightwing fringe groups like the so-called militia are on the rise.

Oct 20, 2009

The President deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

It must be terrible to cheer against your own country.

I’ll bet the right-wingers and the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus editorial board cheer for the Communist Chinese athletes during the Olympics. I’ll bet they cheered for the Russian Ice Hockey Team during the 1980 Winter Olympics “Miracle on Ice.” These same people are upset that President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Personally, I’m proud an American won it, and even more proud that the leader of the U.S. won the prize. We know the extremist rightwing tea baggers hate the President so much they are upset about this, but I was mildly surprised to see the Daily Press & Argus to come out with an editorial saying it cheapens the prize.

I have no idea why they would chose to run an editorial with the headline “Nobel Peace people cheapened their prize.” Even the political leading of the paper’s general manger can’t explain it.

I have two questions for the editorial board. What are the qualifications for winning a Nobel Peace Prize, and who is more deserving than President Obama?

Nobel committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said it best. "The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the world in the previous year to enhance peace in the world. And who has done more than Barack Obama?"

So who has? His candidacy excited the world, and not just because the world was sick of Bush’s cowboy diplomacy. He inspired people, and for many Americans, his candidacy means people can achieve anything. It has nothing do with how long he was in office.

Menachem Z. Rosensaft, the Founding Chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Survivors, made a much better case than I could on why the President deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

Irrational hatred of the President leads to violence

I thought I had seen the height of hatred and the quest to get someone at any cost with the election of President Bill Clinton in 1992, but the election of President Obama has unleashed unprecedented levels of insane hatred.

The irrational hated is even more then the blatant racism that we are getting from the birthers, the deathers, the 10thers and the tea baggers. Recently I read the book “The Brothers Reuther and the Story of the UAW” by Victor G. Reuther. Both he and his brother Walter experienced a little of that hatred.

Both survived assassination attempts, and the assassins was never brought to justice. However, in the book I came across an excerpt from a 1961 speech by President John F. Kennedy where he talked about hatemongers. He experienced his share of death threats and hatred, and we know what it led to.

In critical periods there have always been those on the fringe of our society who have sought to escape their own responsibility by finding a simple solution, an appealing solution or a convenient scapegoat…They look suspiciously at their neighbors and their leader. They call for a “man on horseback” because they do not trust the people. They find treason in our churches, in our highest court…They equate the Democratic Party with the welfare state, the welfare state with socialism, socialism with communism. Let our patriotism be reflected in the creation of confidence in one another, rather than in crusades of suspicion - above all, let us remember, however serious the outlook, however harsh the task, the one great irreversible trend in history of world is on the side of liberty.

I have not seen this level of hatred and anti-government rhetoric since the mid-1990’s, but that ended with the indictment of Timothy McVeigh for the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building back in 1995. How many people have to be killed and injured because of the hatred whipped up by the likes of limbaugh, beck, malkin and coulter?

The Michigan Militia is back.

The tea baggers are even going after children. You will recall the New Jersey elementary school kids who sang a song during Black History Month celebrating the election of the first black U.S. President. The school received death threats, and even a school that had a similar sounding name received death threats.

Imagine, celebrating a U.S. President. Talk about indoctrination. Don’t we have a holiday in February celebrating Presidents? If you want to see indoctrination, check out this worship of George Bush.

Let’s hope this irrational hatred ends before it’s ended with an event like the Oklahoma City bombing.

Oct 19, 2009

GOP pulling out all the stops and cash to capture 19th District seat

With just 15 days left until the Nov. 3 Special election that will send Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson, to the Michigan Senate to fill the 19th District seat vacated by the election of Congressman Mark Schauer, the Republicans are pulling out all the stops to capture the seat.

The Republicans are paying for transportation and the hotel accommodations for any person willing to volunteer for the GOP candidate, Mike Nofs. It’s unclear if alcohol is provided to those underage volunteers with their hotel accommodations like they did at the so-called “GOP Leadership Conference” on Mackinac Island last month. They are also putting out a TV commercial where they are outright lying. Now, they are using an “Online Phone Bank” with the goal of making 19,000 calls by Nov. 3. So far, they have just 486 calls.

It really is a great idea, and they are going so far as to actually list by name with a running total the top callers and the top counties. The most calls, as of today, came from predominantly Democratic Ingham County with 188 calls. The 19th District covers the Counties of Jackson and Calhoun. It speaks volumes that only three calls were made from Jackson County and none from Calhoun where Nofs lives.

The argument can be made that all of the calls by Calhoun County residents are being made there, and there is no reason to list them. The argument can also be made that those callers aren’t really volunteers. But here are the counties, and Ingham has an insurmountable lead, 188-62.

Top Counties
Ingham County has made 188 calls
St. Clair County has made 62 calls
Allegan County has made 50 calls
Bay County has made 48 calls
Oakland County has made 44 calls
Monroe County has made 24 calls
Sanilac County has made 23 calls
Leelanau County has made 21 calls
Midland County has made 6 calls
Grand Traverse County has made 4 calls
Alcona County has made 4 calls
Jackson County has made 3 calls
Branch County has made 3 calls
Macomb County has made 3 calls
Alger County has made 2 calls
Clinton County has made 1 call

Ingham County has such a big lead because the person with the most calls, Amanda Rheaume with 157 calls, lives in Ingham County on the Michigan State University campus. She has a huge lead, with triple the calls by her nearest competitor.

Top Callers
Amanda Rheaume has made 157 calls
TJ Campbell has made 50 calls
Michelle Mcquiston has made 48 calls
Christine McCoy has made 33 calls
Ragina Smith has made 30 calls
Kathleen berden has made 23 calls
Ruth Wisz has made 21 calls
Michelle Johnson has made 20 calls
Helen Hermes has made 19 calls
Anthony Markwort has made 19 calls

Detroit Tigers display hypocrisy over phantom ticket tax

I have been a Detroit Tiger fan since I was 9 years-old, and I really loved Tiger Stadium before that historic gem was destroyed in favor of a corporate stadium financed in large part by public money.

The budget mess in Lansing has been dominating the headlines, and clearly we need to reform the tax structure and find some new revenue in order to continue to fund schools, police, fire and other essential services. One of the many things talked about to do that was a tax on tickets to entertainment. It was never seriously discussed by the Michigan Legislature, let alone proposed, but that didn’t stop the hysterical opposition to it.

I’m such a big fan Tigers fan that I get an email result of every game, as well as promotional email from the Tigers. Last week I was surprised to get an email that did not talk about sports or the Tigers but about politics. They are urging people to contact their state Senator or Representative to fight against the phantom ticket tax.

“This tax is not on the sports teams - it is on you - the fans. And all of us at the Detroit Tigers organization believe it is wrong to target the working families. Michigan would be the only state in the region to tax families attending movies, sporting events and concerts.”

The only state in the region?

It then advertised a web site. How hypocritical is it for the Tigers to stand up against a tax?

Comerica Park was built with tax money that is still being collected. The stadium was financed with $115 million, or 38 percent, from 2 percent rental-car tax and 1 percent hotel tax and money from Indian casino revenue.

Oct 16, 2009

GOP following the script in the Senate race in the 19th District

Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, called it right back in July when in a letter to the House GOP caucus he pushed for the Michigan State Police headquarters to be the major campaign issue in the 2010 election.

Mike Nofs is following that advice like a script in the race for the vacant seat in the 19th State Senate District next month that will be a preview of the 2010 race. Nofs is running against Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson.

Nofs is running a TV commercial on Lansing TV stations staged with the under construction MSP HQ in downtown Lansing in the background where he spouts the lie that the layoff of 100 State troopers was because of the project.

That is simply not true, and he knows it.

The Republicans are trying to rewrite history and ignore the facts. They are completely ignoring the history of the project. The HQ was first requested by former GOP Gov. John Engler. The original draft of the project, under Engler, drew initial opposition from State Police and Military and Veterans Affairs officials some 10 years ago because the proposal attempted to move some of the emergency management operations into downtown Lansing but did not provide room for the vehicle and other storage needed. It was also too large and luxurious.

After changes were made to make the building smaller, it met the approval of State Police Director Peter Munoz, and Governor Jennifer Granholm requested the building.

The project was then approved on a bi-partisan vote by the Joint Capital Outlay Committee in 2007, as are all state building projects that do not require specific legislation. The committee consists of members from both parties from both the House and Senate. The lease was then approved by the State Administrative Board. Munoz said he supports project, as does the State Police Troopers Association.

The State Administrative Board consists of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Director of the Department of Transportation. The State Administrative Board has general supervisory control over the administrative activities of all state departments and agencies, including, but not limited to, the approval of contracts and leases, oversight of the state capitol outlay process and the settlement of claims against the state.

The project also brings the State Police into compliance with a constitutional provision requiring that state departments be headquartered in Lansing and with Governor Jennifer Granholm's executive directive (2003-22) that state offices, where possible, be located in central business districts. Michigan State Police want the building back where the majority of the MSP is currently headquartered. Michigan State University wants the building back where the majority of the MSP is currently headquartered.

Nofs then pushed the standard GOP lie that the lease for the new, modern HQ will cost taxpayers $4 million a year more than the current HQ, but that lie ignores two facts. It ignores the fact that it costs in the millions to maintain the current HQ MSU plans to tear down as soon as the MSP leaves, and that the plan is to now buy the building with bonds.

Vote for Martin Griffin on Nov. 3 for some honesty.

Dueling doctors

Lansing is the site of many protests, rallies and demonstrations as constituents and advocacy groups attempt to lobby and influence lawmakers.

The budget process has spurred plenty of rallies, like the one held on Sept. 24 when doctors and human service advocates descended on Lansing to protest the Department of Community Health budget that cut the reimbursement rate to health care providers for Medicaid by 8 percent. The rate paid to doctors and hospitals that treat poor and low-income patients has been an easy target of cuts, and those providing the care are losing money to the point that they don’t want to see Medicaid patients.

Subscription only Gongwer covered the rally, and doctors, like emergency room doctor James Fox, said the 8 percent cut could crush the state’s health care system and force doctors out of practice and put ERs in jeopardy.

"Another cut to Medicaid would cause a death spiral where people will wait to get care and end up at the hospital where costs for treatment are even higher," Dr. Fox told Gongwer.

Patrick Wardell, CEO of Hurley Medical Center in Flint, told Gongwer that the 8 percent cut would result in a projected loss of about $8 million and potentially a reduction in the quality of critical care such as burn treatment, neonatal care and other specialty areas that 23 surrounding counties depend on the hospital to deliver.

“The hospital can't sustain these cuts without compromising care," said Wardell said, adding that staff would probably be one of the first areas they would trim, since it accounts for up to 75 percent of the facilities' expenses.

So on Oct. 6 the House addressed those concerns and passed House Bill 5386 that enacts the physician Quality Assurance Assessment Program (QAAP) that imposes a 3 percent gross revenues tax on physicians. Revenue collected from doctors would be matched with Federal funds bringing in $2.70 for every $1 the QAAP raises. Using these matching funds, the state would then significantly increase Medicaid reimbursement to doctors, bringing them up to Medicare standards.

Guess what? Doctors - primarily private practice doctors - are against this, and they are predicting the sky will fall if this becomes law, even though doctors who treat Medicaid patients will see significant increases in income.

In fact, the Michigan State Medical Society is sponsoring a rally of its own in Lansing on Tuesday, calling it the “White Coat Rally.” It will coincide with the first Senate committee hearing on the bill, set for 1 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 20 in front the Community Health Appropriations Subcommittee in the Senate Hearing Room on the ground floor of the Boji Tower.

The group is making dubious claims that it will push doctors out of Michigan, and asking if other professions would be willing to accept a 3 percent tax on their income. To me, the answer is yes, if I get a 3-6 percent pay raise like they will.

The result is that many providers will not only break even on the tax, they will actually earn more money from the increased reimbursements than they pay out in the tax. And the state has a track record that this works.

This is not a new idea. It is designed to mirror successful programs with hospitals and nursing homes that the state has run for several years. The concept is to assess a category of Medicaid provider, pool the revenue, match that pool with Federal Medicaid funds to create a pool 3-4 times larger, and then redistribute most of that pool back to providers in the form of higher Medicaid reimbursement rates.

The increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate would bring doctors up to the standard Medicare rates. Doctors with a higher percentage of Medicaid patients will make more money.

The plan will encourage physicians to accept more or begin accepting Medicaid patients. This will increase access to care for our poorest citizens and should in time reduce our overall expenditures on health care due to increased primary care visits and decreased emergency room visits.

Not only will it increase income for many physicians, it will also provide an opportunity for the state to continue other vital public health programs. On top of restoring that cut and increasing reimbursements to Medicare levels, we could also restore some spending for mental health services, prevention programs, substance abuse, local public health offices and other vital programs through the Department of Community Health budget.

Oct 15, 2009

Protest planned against misguided choice for ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’

Residents of Southwest Detroit are outraged that Grosse Pointe billionaire and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Arab American Chaldean Council.

They are so outraged that they are sending a petition of protest to the Council, and they plan to protest at the 30th Annual Civic and Humanitarian Awards Gala on Saturday at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center. The protest starts at 5:30 p.m.

The petition highlights Moroun’s sleazy business practices. He is going forward on building a second bridge span right next to the current Ambassador Bridge without a single permit or environmental clearance; not from the City of Detroit, the state of Michigan, the federal government or the Canadian government.

State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, has tried to get Moroun to undertake a full environmental impact study for the planned second span of the Ambassador Bridge, but the bridge company has refused to do it. Instead, they tried to mount a recall against Tlaib, who represents Southwest Detroit, for pushing the issue.

Residents say he and the bridge company are not good neighbors. Southwest Detroit has some of the worst air quality in the state, and the children of Southwest Detroit are suffering from high rates of asthma. Rates of respiratory diseases are skyrocketing. The Ambassador Bridge brings in over 10,000 vehicles a day with more diesel trucks idling in the bridge plaza. The community deserves to know the impact of this massive transportation project on environment and human health.

While the Bridge Company makes profits from allowing more trucks across the bridge, the community pays the toll. Organizers of the protest say the Ambassador Bridge Company has not made a single attempt to engage in dialogue with the community to discuss measures to mitigate air pollution, such as planting trees, creating a buffer zone around the truck plaza or anti-idling regulations for diesel trucks.

The company took possession of Riverside Park at 23rd Street to build the second span because it claims an old act of Congress designated it an instrument of the federal government because it controlled traffic on an international crossing. They then said they had permission from former Mayor Dennis Archer. The city tried to evict them, and the Bridge Company sued to stop it.

But just a few weeks ago a District Court Judge ruled they have 90 days to get out of the park. But that is not the only court loss the Bridge company has suffered this month.

The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest commercial border crossing in all of North America, handling 20 percent more trucks than its closest competitor and almost double the commercial traffic of the next busiest crossing on the Canadian border. In all, almost 30 percent of all U.S./Canada trade and over 25 percent of the truck traffic between the U.S. and Canada passes through the Detroit-Windsor gateway. This U.S.-Canadian trade directly supports 7.1 million U.S. jobs, 221,500 Michigan jobs, and one in three Canadian jobs. More than $1 billon in trade crosses the bridge everyday.

Yet, not a single government official - local, state or federal - is allowed to inspect the bridge for safety. The company hires a private contractor to do the annual inspection. The company has tried to keep the latest report secret, and it went to court to stop it’s release after U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, obtained a copy from the Federal Highway Administration. On Tuesday a U.S. District Court Judge denied the request to keep the report secret.

Remember, the protest is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, October 17 at Jefferson in front of the Renaissance Center.

Lawmaker says protecting lungs more important than fuzzy dice

LANSING – At least one Michigan lawmaker thinks protecting residents from deadly secondhand smoke is a little more important than being able to hang fuzzy dice from your rearview mirror.

Sen. Tupac Hunter brought up the fact that action on the workplace smoking ban has been put off because of the budget, yet the Senate managed to pass Senate Bill 276 on Wednesday that will allow motorists to hang fuzzy dice, rosaries, scented trees and other items from their vehicle's rearview mirror.

“The last time we discussed this, there were a lot of media reports about how we were so busy dealing or not with the budget that we can’t take up an important issue like banning smoking,” Hunter said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “We are so busy with dealing with all the important issues like repealing the law to remove fuzzy dice from the rearview mirror that we can’t take up this very important issue.”

Hunter, who sponsored SB 460 in June that would place the popular smoking issue on the ballot, said the Legislature needs to do the right thing for the citizens of Michigan and ban smoking in the workplace.

“If we know that secondhand smoke is harmful, let’s ban it; let’s stop playing games,” he said. “Let’s stop twiddling our thumbs and saying, ‘Oh, we are so busy meeting in session for 30 minutes that we can’t do what the citizens of this great state have sent us here to do,’ and that is to pass legislation that improves their quality of life, that protects their health and their safety.”

In May the House approved House Bill 4377 with bipartisan support that bans smoking in casinos and so-called cigar bars. The Senate says it favors a bill with no exceptions, but it has refused to act on any bill.

Hunter said because it had been so long since he has heard any discussion on smoking, he was surprised to get a memo from an unnamed colleague calling for there to be a financial incentive for foster parents to maintain a smoke-free environment to help protect children from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

“So we recognize that secondhand smoke is harmful, but we want to limit a ban on smoking for foster homes,” he said.

Oct 13, 2009

‘Act Now or Forever Hold Your Breath’ campaign launched

Now that the bulk of the budget bills are out of the way, it’s time for the Michigan Legislature to take action on the long overdue workplace smoking ban.

The Campaign for Smokefree Air has launched the “Act Now or Forever Hold Your Breath” grassroots campaign aimed at refocusing lawmakers’ attention back to protecting Michigan residents from the deadly impact of secondhand smoke. It’s a six week intensified grassroots effort to get lawmakers to finally pass a comprehensive smokefree bill.

People need to send an email to leadership, call your own representative, meet your senator at their coffee hour, or write on your lawmaker’s Facebook page. Part of the six week effort will be a new task and challenge each week, and the first task to call 888-NOW-I-CAN to be transferred to your State Representative’s office and tell them you want smokefree air now.

In May the House approved House Bill 4377 with bipartisan support that bans smoking in casinos and so-called cigar bars. The Senate says it favors a bill with no exceptions, but it has refused to act on any bill.

Oct 12, 2009

Former State Representative Doug Spade announces run for Michigan Senate

In a bit of great news, former State Representative Doug Spade, D-Adrian, formally announced today he is a candidate for the 16th District State Senate District that covers Lenawee, Hillsdale, Branch and St. Joseph Counties.

“With two government shut-downs in the past three years, a seeming inability to act on pressing matters in a timely fashion, and a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude of inflexibility exhibited by all too many elected officials, it’s no surprise the public has lost confidence in state government,” Spade said in a press release announcing his candidacy.

The 16h District Senate seat is currently occupied by rightwing Republican Cameron Brown, but he is term limited and running for Michigan Secretary of State. But winning in a conservative district is nothing new to Spade. When he was elected to the first of his three terms in the House in 1998 he was the first Democrat to serve Lenawee County in the House since 1914.

I have met Doug Spade a few times, and I had the same impressions as everybody else: he’s a class act, and they think they already know him from listening to the radio show he hosted on WLEN Adrian for 25 years.

I first met him when I was working for my first newspaper, the mom and pop weekly Blissfield Advance. He and I were the “celebrity” guests at a diner hosted by a Girl Scout troop in Blissfield. All I can tell you is that his seeing eye dog was much more popular than both of us.

Spade was the operations manager at WLEN, and for 25 years he hosted a call-in show called “Party Line.” It was not your conventional talk show. The show began at noon, and people just called in to talk about anything they wanted. He made the show about the callers, and they could talk about anything under the sun; from their garden to current affairs. I would listen to see what people were talking about.

I ran across him again when I went to work for the Adrian Daily Telegram. I had only been there a few months when the 1996 election occurred. Doug Spade made his first run at the state House against then incumbent extremist right-winger Tim Walberg, and Walberg kept his seat by just a few votes after a recount. When he retired in 1998, Doug won the seat handily; now held by his brother, Dudley Spade.

Only debate for the 19th Senate seat goes forward even though Democratic candidate was in session

It’s a little sad that in the important race for the vacant 19th District seat in the Michigan Senate next month there is only one, solitary head to head debate, but that’s the case in this important race.

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce hosted the only debate last Thursday, but Democratic candidate Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson, was unable to attend because the House was in a marathon session that lasted until 11:50 p.m. The Speaker invoked a call of the House, which means the doors are locked and lawmakers cannot leave. Surprisingly, the debate wet forward anyway, giving the GOP candidate free publicity in a county where he is an unknown.

The GOP candidate took shots at Griffin, and he Griffin was unable to defend himself. Word is that he even tried to misrepresent Griffin’s vote on suspending an inflationary increase in the personal exemption on Michigan's income tax, saying every time you get a pay raise, the state gets a pay raise.

Not true. The House voted to freeze the personal income tax exemption at last year's level, and it would have increased the exception from $3,500 to $3,600 this year. Which means you will not get an extra $4.35 back next spring. It seems like $4.35 is a small price to pay for not throwing a monkey wrench in the gears of recovery by killing education and local communities.

Oct 9, 2009

Churches sponsoring rally to support equal rights for gays

A pair of Livingston County churches are taking the moral high ground and co-sponsoring a rally on Sunday to support equal rights for gays.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Community Unitarian Universalists in Brighton and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) are sponsoring the rally set for 12:30 p.m. at the Mill Pond gazebo in downtown Brighton. Sunday is also National Coming Out Day, and it is also the day of the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. The public is invited to the brief ceremony that will feature speakers.

The Community Unitarian Universalists have a history of tolerance, acceptance and community service in the county, and they have sponsored past events that reflect that mission. In October of 2007 they co-sponsored a “Counter Coulter” event that brought in Ann Arbor author Jonathan Cohn to speak about health care reform that raised money for the free VINA Community Dental Center of Livingston County.

In September of last year they sponsored a forum on the expansion of embryonic stem cell research featuring former U.S. Congressman and medical doctor Joe Schwarz.

Oct 8, 2009

Livingston County Republicans breach the public trust

As expected, Livingston County’s state Legislative delegation is toeing the Republican line on the budgets cuts that will devastate the state, but the comments of Rep. Bill Rogers, R, Brighton, are becoming screechy.

Just minutes after that the House adjoined on Tuesday after a marathon session that lasted until almost 9 p.m. where a modest revenue increase was approved, Rogers’s staffer sent out a press release blasting the increase.

The House approved a physician Quality Assurance Assessment Program (QAAP) that assesses a 3 percent tax on doctors. Revenue collected from doctors would be matched with Federal funds bringing in $2.70 for every $1 the QAAP raises, and those matching funds would be used to increase Medicaid reimbursement to doctors, bringing them up to Medicare standards. The Department of Community Health budget just approved last month cut the reimbursement rate by 8 percent, putting hospitals in danger of going into bankruptcy and causing some doctors to stop treating Medicaid patients.

But Rogers told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus that the increase is "a stunning breach of the public trust" that would make it harder to live and work in this state. Please.

If you want a stunning breach of public trust, how about telling high school students that if they do well on the MEAP test they will earn the Michigan Promise scholarship, but once they are enrolled in college, we take it away. That is a breach of the public trust.

He then said he was "outraged" by the proposals, which he said were introduced in "the 11th hour under the cover of darkness." He can be outraged all he wants, but the 11th hour charge is what’s really outrageous. The proposal has been around since late July.

According to the article, Rogers and Rep. Cindy Denby, R-Handy Township, both said the proposals broke an agreement between state House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, to balance the budget without raising taxes.

Simply not true. Dillon made the deal without the agreement of this caucus, and they both left out the second half of the agreement: Republicans would support supplemental appropriations bills to restore some of the cuts. Dillon said all along he would look to safeguard K-12 education, college scholarships, local police and fire protection and health care for children and seniors.

MDP calls for investigation of GOP underage drinking

LANSING - The Michigan Democratic Party is calling for an immediate and thorough investigation of the underage drinking that took place at the so-called “GOP Leadership Conference” on Mackinac Island last week.

Central Michigan University College Republican Vanessa Oblinger blogged about the weekend’s events, and she wrote that the students “were rewarded with open bars and free dinners” just for coming. Underage drinking is all too common among college students, but the problem is the illegal alcohol was provided by Republican candidates for Governor and Attorney General. Of those candidates, one is the top law enforcement officer in the state one is the sheriff of one of the county’s most popular counties and another is a former judge who wants to be the top law enforcement officer in the state.

To compound the problem, the party took place just three days before the deadline to approve a state budget.

“This wasn’t a so-called ‘policy conference’ – it was ‘Animal House on the Island’ for three days sponsored by the Michigan Republican Party and its candidates,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. “Mike Cox and Mike Bouchard are officers of the law.
“Bill Schuette is a former judge, and he and Mike Bishop want to become Attorney General.,” Brewer said. “For them to ignore and even condone this illegal behavior is shameful and irresponsible. There must be a thorough investigation of this illegal activity on the Island.”

Oct 6, 2009

Whitmer announces run for Michigan Attorney General

State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, became the first Democratic candidate for Michigan Attorney General, according to a story in the Lansing State Journal.

According to the paper, she filed paperwork announcing her intention to run for state attorney general in 2010. She became the first Democrat to openly say she wants the Democratic nomination that will be chosen at the state Democratic Convention next year. The three Republican candidates have been campaigning activity.

It has been speculated that Whitmer will run for the past couple of months, even though she has a term left in the Senate, and she could be the Senate Majority Leader in 2010. She had this is just a first step in the process. Also mentioned as possible Democratic candidates are Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton and Farmington Hills lawyer Richard Bernstein.

Whitmer has a record of standing up for the consumers and the vulnerable, and she has been a sharp critic of Senate Republicans, and she has drawn the ire of Republicans, and some of it has been vicious, strident and sexist. In the LSJ article, GOP mouthpiece Greg McNeilly said Whitmer is a "liberal elitist" and "another Jennifer Granholm clone seeking fame and glory over the best interests of residents."

I’m not sure why being called a liberal is a criticism, considering the programs that have made life better for most Michiganders are liberal programs, but it is a code word to activate the GOP base.

Whitmer was first elected to the State Senate in March of 2006 after serving served in the Michigan House from 2000 to 2006. Whitmer was born in Lansing earned a BA degree in Communications law degree, Magna Cum Laude, from Michigan State University. Whitmer was a corporate litigator specializing in administrative and regulatory law with the Lansing law firm of Dickinson Wright. She practiced administrative law before the Ingham County Circuit Court and the Michigan Public Service Commission.

‘Stand With Griffin’ District Invasion set for Saturday

College students from all over Michigan will be in Battle Creek this Saturday to show their support for Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson, in his race for the vacant 19th District Senate seat that represents Calhoun and Jackson counties.

Griffin voted in the minority on Sept. 30 to protect the Michigan Promise Scholarship from getting axed and preserve other higher education funding, and college students are standing up for Griffin for that support.

The plan is to invade the district beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday Oct. 10 at the Martin Griffin for State Senate campaign office in Calhoun County, 38 Michigan Ave E: Battle Creek, 49017.

The Nov. 3 election is less than a month away, and this is the first step in taking back the Senate like we did the House in 2006. The Republicans enjoy a thin 21-16 lead with the vacant seat, and they are pulling out all the stops to win it back. They see it as the first step in keeping control of the Senate in 2010. More people voted for Senate Democrats in 2006, but they gerrymandered the districts so badly, they kept control.

We saw the importance of Democrats having control during the recent budget process. Like I said, Republicans are pulling out all the stops in trying to win this seat, and they have gone as far as to pay for hotel rooms and transportation for the so-called volunteers for the Republican opponent.

Apparently, paying volunteers is a common practice in the GOP, and we saw a prime example of that during the so-called Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference last month where college Republicans bragged about underage drinking and partying.

The canvas is not limited to students or even parents of students struggling to help their student pay for college, so grab a friend or two and come out with your walking shoes. And think car pool. Call (269) 425-4333 for further information.

Oct 5, 2009

Livingston County’s state Legislative delegation spews GOP talking points in response to budget crisis

It was no surprise that Livingston County’s state Legislative delegation is against any new tax revenues to save essential programs, but the comments coming from them are still a little surprising.

The comments from freshman Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, were a little surprising. Rogers is a genuinely good guy in person, but his earlier pretense of being a bipartisan leader went quickly out the window following the budget process last month. Rogers was elected as the co-chair of the Freshman Caucus with the mission to foster friendship and cooperation that would address the problems facing Michigan. They even signed a pledge to cooperate even when they disagree.

Rogers told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus on Sunday that it would be better if state government shut down. I’m not sure how putting some 50,000 people out of work would help the budget situation. He then said Gov. Jennifer Granholm “entered the budget debate at the zero hour, and that legislators on both sides of the aisle are enraged.”

That is simply not true. The Legislature Rogers is a member of approves budgets, not the Governor. She sent a recommended budget to the Legislature and they can accept or reject it. She was involved in the negotiations with the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader, but she did not agree with the agreement reached between the two to balance the budget with all cuts. Neither did many in Speaker Andy Dillon’s caucus.

Then he takes a ridiculous shot at the Governor: “Now she gets engaged? Maybe she should go back to Japan," Rogers added, referring to the governor's recent overseas business trip.” Maybe the Republicans should have stayed at the party in Mackinac just three days before the budget deadline.

The Governor has created a lot more jobs on mission trips than Bill Rogers has, and that includes his family business. The auto industry has shed jobs at an unprecedented rate because of the national recession, and the Governor has traveled far and wide with success to diversify the economy and bring new jobs to the state.

The fact is the economy is changing, but our tax structure has not. We are a service economy, yet there is no tax on services. That means every level of government has had to do more with less, yet the demand has increased.

Rogers and the Republicans continue to push the false argument that lower taxes equal economic growth, but we have cut taxes every year in Michigan for the past 15 years. They also buy into the false argument that Michigan is a high tax state. Simply not true.

The conservative Tax Foundation found Michigan has the 17th best business tax climate in the nation, up from 28th in 2006.