Jan 22, 2010
Rogers criticizes House Dems for 'politial ploy’ but ignores Senate GOP
Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, is filling his role as the minority party quite nicely, and his attack on a House Democratic plan to end so-called lifetime health care benefits for state lawmakers illustrates that.
In a story that ran in today’s edition of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, Rogers called it a "political ploy" and "the worst case of stupid politics, petty politics." But, that’s only when Democrats do it. Rogers is upset that a bill the Senate Republicans introduced, House Bill 5019, on May 28 would have eliminated the lifetime health insurance benefit, but House Democrats, who control the gavel, are going t take up a similar bill introduced by one of their members instead.
Welcome to being the minority party, Mr. Rogers. You would think his number one concern would be to get it done, but it’s not. The House Democrats plan to take up HB 4194 introduced by Rep. Dian Slavens, D-Canton, three months earlier on Feb. 5. That bill, unlike the Republican’s bill, has bipartisan support, and it was co-sponsored by Rep. Tom McMillan, R-Rochester Hills; a freshman and perhaps the most conservative Republican the House.
Under the bipartisan bill introduced by Slavens, only legislators elected before January 1, 2007 would be eligible for retiree health insurance coverage. The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency said in its analysis of the bill that it “would provide long term savings by incrementally reducing and eventually eliminating the costs of health care benefits for members of the Legislature as the number of members in the closed system decreased over time.”
But Slavens has introduced a substitute to that bill, a very common practice on bills that have already been taken up, that goes even further and would exclude legislators serving on or after Jan. 30, 2009, from receiving the benefit. That would mean even she would lose the benefit.
What has Rogers upset is that he claims Republicans had the idea first, and that it is just a political ploy. But Rogers has been silent when earlier this week Senate Republicans unveiled their so-called reform package at a press conference that includes eliminating the benefit for lawmakers that have “not vested before January 1, 2010.” The problem there is that it would only impact future legislators, not current ones. No bills have yet been introduced based on that proposal.
Plus, the bill Rogers is pushing would have the state pay, according to the Press & Argus, “30 percent of costs after 10 years of service —a percentage that would increase 3 percent each year until 30 years of service were reached..” Considering that the most years a Senator can serve is 8 years and state Representative 6 years, it doesn’t make much sense.
I was bowled over to read the P & A editorial on Thursday that actual criticized a Rogers. The paper has a deserved reputation for being unabashed supporters of the Rogers family, especially U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers. But the editorial said “ it was disappointing this week to see Rogers fall into the partisan profile that he said he disdained when he was initially elected.”
I agree, but I was surprised not only to see the editorial, but a little confused as to why the editorial ran before the article the editorial was talking about.
I do not agree with either the Democrats or the Republicans on this issue.
It should be pointed out that the so-called lifetime health benefit is really not a lifetime health care benefit, unless they only live until 10 years after they reach age 55. It kicks in only after they are finished with their entire maximum term they can serve and it kicks in at age 55 and is in force until they reach age 65 when Medicare kicks in.
When you consider the responsibility the Legislature has, how much money they oversee and the amount of money lobbyists have to spread around, why is it we want to pay the people making our laws so little? Many mayors make more money and school principals make more that lawmakers. This will kill the notion of the citizen lawmaker, and all we will have in Lansing will be retirees and the independently wealthy. It will cut out the working class from serving that is actually close to the people. You also have to consider how much it costs to be a lawmaker. Lawmaker from the UP has to drive some 500 miles to work, one way.
In just the Democratic caucus, we have an auto worker, a miner a carpenter and a nurse. If we keep going in this direction, that will change, and we will have nothing but the independently rich and lobbyists will hold sway.