Feb 28, 2011
Despite an all out war on collective bargaining and unions by Republicans like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the public is simply not buying it.
A CBS/NYT poll released today shows a majority of people have a favorable opinion of unions. Public employees and their unions have been the biggest target of Republicans since the November election, and they are being blamed for municipalities teetering on the brink of bankruptcy despite the fact that Wall Street helped create the deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression.
Like in Wisconsin ad Michigan, public employees have given back wages and benefits to help balance state budgets while Wall Street bankers get huge bonuses, but what Republicans really want to do is take away their civil right of collective bargaining. But, again, people are not buying into that myth that public employees are making too much money and getting too many benefits.
The poll found the majority, 36 percent, say their compensation is about right, and a majority opposes cutting their pay and benefits to balance state budgets. A majority also oppose what Walker is trying to do in Wisconsin, and 38 percent oppose limiting collective bargaining.
With the tide turning against him, Walker has taken more tyrannical measures, locking the public out of their state capitol.
Feb 27, 2011
There is no doubt that the latest round of union-busting by Republicans is about politics because union, workers and the middle class tend to support Democrat, but the hate coming from the right is just amazing.
Only in their world are teachers, police officers and firefighters thugs and animals, but that’s what at least one elected Republican thinks. Pro-worker rallies were held all over the country in support of Wisconsin public employees on Saturday, and more than a thousand people showed up in Lansing.
But this is what teabagger Republican Grand Traverse County Commissioner Jason Gillman thinks of teachers, state employees, police officers and firefighters.
“For my part, I am convinced many of the labor union members that go to these rallies are little more than animals,” he said on the leading rightwing blog “RightMichigan.”
This is an elected official.
Remember that when they use police officers and firefighters as props at press conferences; it appears they are only standing next to these “animals” for political purposes.
Unlike in Wisconsin where the conservative, billionaire Koch brothers are busing in tea baggers, only a few are showing up in Lansing despite attempts to get more to try and get a confrontation on tape. It’s kind of like in Egypt where pro- Mubarak demonstrators tried to incite violence so they could say to the world that the pro-democracy demonstrators there were violent.
But only a handful of teabaggers like Gillman showed up in Lansing, but with so many pro-union people they managed to get an entire 31 seconds of a confrontation on tape from a rally that lasted more than three hours. We only see 31 seconds where a guy gave Gillman the finger and told him to fuck off. Nothing before or nothing after.
Democrats stayed away from teabagger “rallies” that were initially organized and promoted by the most extreme rightwing and anti-government groups out there that include militias, secessionists and neo-Nazi white supremacist groups, and they are financed by cash laden Washington, D.C. lobbying firms and people like the Koch brothers. Make no mistake about it, the attack on unions is to kill Democratic supporters and teabaggers showing up at pro-union rallies is to provoke a confrontation.
Among the many attacks I have endured from anonymous right-wingers on this blog includes the talking point that “elections have consequences.” At no time, that I recall, did a Republican take the position that they were going to take away collective bargaining rights. That they were going to push right to work for less was a given, but it’s not the same.
It’s absurd that workers should give up a civil right they fought and died for, for many years just because of a wave election. Perhaps the greatest civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, died supporting striking workers. The final campaign of King’s life was in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sanitation workers went on strike for pay and working conditions after two workers had been crushed to death when the compactor mechanism of the trash truck was accidentally triggered in a rainstorm. As the strike lengthened, King agreed to lend his support to the sanitation workers, spoke at a rally in Memphis March 18, and promised to lead the large march and work stoppage planned for later in the month. He was in town for that march when he was assassinated.
Feb 25, 2011
Working citizens all over Michigan plan to gather at the State Capitol in Lansing at noon on Saturday, Feb. 26 to make their voices heard on the unacceptable attacks on the civil rights of workers, to protest the tax shift from the rich and powerful to the middle class and the working poor and to urge the Legislature to focus on creating jobs instead of union busting.
The rally will run from noon to 3 p.m., and a couple of progressive groups and organized labor are doing the organizing. One event is called “Storm the Capitol,” and the other one is called “The Rally to Save the American Dream.” Both events have the same goals, and the important thing is to just be there.
On Tuesday and Wednesday thousands of workers made it to Lansing to protest the attacks on workers’ rights, and this is a continuation of that. Teabaggers on Tuesday also tried to organize a counter rally designed to provoke a confrontation, but since they were outnumbered 50-1 they kept to themselves. The confrontations only come from them when the numbers are on their side.
But they plan to try it again, and a group called "We the People of Mid-Michigan” is trying to rally the troops on Saturday at the same time.
In addition to few real concerned conservative Republicans, teabagger groups have attracted the most extreme rightwing and anti-government groups out there that include militias, secessionists and neo-Nazi white supremacist groups, and they are financed by cash laden Washington, D.C. lobbying firms and corporations. It will be tough to ignore that element because they will do everything to provoke a confrontation, and we must do everything to ignore those attempts to give them ammunition.
Feb 24, 2011
It was pretty clear to most people that extremist Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin was trying to bust the public sector unions by trying to take away their collective bargaining rights by creating a financial emergency, but he confirmed his goal was union busting on Tuesday after he was phone pranked by a liberal blogger.
Besides proving he wasn’t very smart and easily duped, the call proves this is just a union busting ploy because unions tend to support Democrats in elections. Walker thought he was talking to David Koch, one of the Koch brothers who has bankrolled teabaggers and is financing the current union-busting movement.
The transcript of the call is just hilarious and reveling, and Walker never knew he was being pranked. It did prove that this is not about balancing the budget but killing the unions. Walker tries to make the claim that the huge crowds that have jammed the capitol in Wisconsin in support of collective bargaining rights are paid, saying, “…they’re probably putting hobos in suits.”
Then they joked about trying to trick the Democratic Senators who left Madison so the Legislature does not have a quorum by tricking them into returning by thinking that Walker was actually going to negotiate in good faith, and Koch/blogger Ian Murphy joked Walker should bring a baseball bat to the meeting.
“I have one in my office; you’d be happy with that,” Walker said. “I got a Slugger with my name on it.”
Walker is obviously enjoying all the attention he is getting, and his ego is growing along with his infamy. He even compared himself to GOP saint Ronald Reagan, and he tried to equate union-busting with the fall of Communism. Someone should tell him about the Solidarity union movement and Lech Wałęsa.
"I pulled out a picture of Ronald Reagan, and I said, you know, this may seem a little melodramatic, but 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan, whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before, had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air-traffic controllers,” Walker said. “And, uh, I said, to me that moment was more important than just for labor relations or even the federal budget, that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism because from that point forward, the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover"
Walker also made it clear that Wisconsin is ground zero for busting public sector unions, and he wants to import the union-busting to other states, including Michigan.
“I talk to Kasich every day; John’s gotta stand firm in Ohio,” he said. “I think we could do the same thing with Vic Scott in Florida. I think, uh, [Rick] Snyder-if he got a little more support-probably could do that in Michigan.”
The good news is that Snyder is saying, at least publicly, that he is not interested in union busting. But the Republican-controlled Legislature is another story, and they are doing nothing but union busting. I have no idea how this creates jobs.
Veteran Capitol correspondent Tim Skubick is reporting that Snyder went so far as to meet with Legislative Republicans on Tuesday to talk about their union-busting agenda over his agenda of reforming the tax system and the budget. Apparently, the Speaker of the House told him they were more interested in union busting than jobs.
Feb 23, 2011
LANSING -- House Republicans struck a blow for bigger government, against local control and disenfranchising voters when they approved a package of bills that gives dictatorial like powers to state-appointed emergency financial managers (EFM).
On Wednesday House Bills 4214-4218 and 4246 were approved almost along party lines, 62-47 with one Republican voting no because it makes it easier to appoint an EFM and they give the unelected EFM much more broader powers with no oversight while giving them the power to dissolve elected board and commissions.
“Proponents of this bill have argued for years that more big government is the wrong path to economic recovery,” said Rep. Kate Segal, D-Battle Creek. “This legislation paves the way for big state government to come in and completely usurp local democratically elected governmental functions.”
That was precisely why at least one Republicans voted against the package.
“I voted against House Bills 4214-18 and HB 4246, the package to expand the powers of emergency managers, because it gives these appointed managers total control over local boards who are elected by the people,” said Rep. Dale Zorn, R-Monroe. “Local elected officials, such as city or village council members and school board members, deserve a voice in the process. It is the local elected official, and not an appointed manager with no connection to the community, who knows what is best for their home town or school district. “
Despite thousands of people invading Lansing to protest against passage of the bills, Republicans ignored them and voted to disenfranchise voters. The reason that it is so popular with Republicans is because it allows the manger to terminate contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith.
This is about union-busting pure and simple.
“One is that this legislation is being rushed through without a proper understanding of all of the issues surrounding it,” Segal said. “A number of very suitable amendments were turned down in committee and on the floor without an actual vote. To my knowledge, there are few, if any, examples in Michigan that this concept has really worked to any degree of satisfaction.”
Some Democrats commented on the fact that Gov. Rick Snyder wants to expand the scope and reasons for the EFM, holds a two-day class for EFM candidates and cuts revenue sharing to local municipalities already reeling from falling property taxes.
“Another aspect of this is that, at the same time the current administration is rushing this legislation through, it is also on a parallel track of drastically cutting revenue sharing to cities, counties, and other municipalities at the same time they are cutting $470 per pupil from schools,” Segal said. “Both of these actions will further serve to push additional school districts and municipalities already on the brink into receivership and be subject to these ‘emergency’ financial managers. It would seem they are artificially creating the ‘emergency.’”
The bills now go to the Senate, but the Senate Education Committee approved along party lines their version.
Feb 22, 2011
LANSING -- Some 1,500 workers turned out to lobby their lawmakers and protest Republicans stealth attempt to bust public sector unions.
The House debated the anti-democratic and union busting House Bills 4214-4218 that give Emergency Financial Mangers (EFM) more power, including the ability to disenfranchise voters and terminate contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith. Republicans fought off every attempt to make the bills more transparent, but they were defeated along party lines.
Tuesday’s demonstration was peaceful, despite the attempt to take away precious collective bargaining rights won by life and limb of people before them and the vote from locals. It should be hard to take the vote away from voters.
Not only that, but teabaggers organized a weak counter-protest, and about 20 teabaggers showed up in a failed attempt to provoke a confrontation, telling them to “Get pictures, and take video.”
The Detroit News reported that “At one point, about two dozen tea party supporters, many hoisting "Don't Tread on Me" flags, began marching toward the mostly pro-union group of a few dozen people gathered in front of the east Capitol steps. But they stopped about 50 feet away and eventually turned back, later regrouping near Capitol Avenue in front of the monument to Michigan's Civil War governor, Austin Blair.”
The 50-1 ratio of working people to teabaggers made them think better of trying to provoke a confrontation.
Republicans did their best to silence the working people. According to the Detroit News, “More than 500 construction workers chanted and stomped their feet outside a House hearing room this afternoon to get the attention of lawmakers hearing testimony on repeal of prevailing wages.“ The House Commerce Committee took testimony on a bill that will kill the prevailing wage law that calls for union wages to be paid on public projects, but they were locked out after the seats were filled. Typically, another committee room will be set up with a TV feed, bit for some reason that did not happen.
More protests are expected Wednesday in Lansing. The House Government Operations Committee is holding a hearing on legislation to repeal Public Act 312 on Wednesday, Feb 23. House Bills 4205-4206 that will repel Public Act 312 will be voted out of the Committee at noon on Wednesday.
Because police officers and firefighters are essential to public safety, they are not allowed to strike like other bargaining units can, so PA 312 gives them a tool in negotiating a contract. PA 312 is the foundation of collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers in Michigan, and since 1969 PA 312 has provided a fair and equitable process for contract disputes between firefighters and police officers and municipalities.
Michigan's police and firefighters are holding a rally in support of PA312. The rally will kick off at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Lansing. From there, the group will head to the Capital.
Additionally, the Senate Education Committee will vote out the Senate version of the anti-democratic and union busting EFM bills, SBs 153-158. The Education Committee meets at 12:30 p.m. in room 100 of the Farnum Building, 125 W. Allegan St.
The meetings, like all committee meetings, are open to the public.
Feb 21, 2011
You knew this was coming: Michigan residents are rallying at the Capitol in Lansing tomorrow on Feb. 22 to protect precious collective bargaining rights that people literally gave up life and limb to win, but it appears teabaggers are organizing a counter rally at the same time to try and provoke a confrontation.
Something called the “Southwest Michigan Patriots” is organizing a “Tea Party Rally” on the west side of the Capitol along Walnut St. The leading Republican teabagger blog is also telling their people they are busing in to “Get pictures, and take video” in an obvious attempt to provoke a confrontation they can record and put up on Youtube.
Republicans in Michigan are trying to bust public sector unions in the form of balancing the budget. Two weeks ago they voted anti-democratic and union busting House Bills 4214-4218 out of committee that will repeal Public Act 72, the current law governing emergency financial managers (EFM). The bills give them more power that includes disenfranchising the voters and terminating contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith.
The public sector unions are gathering at 9 a.m. Feb. 22 at Central United Methodist Church, 215 N. Capitol, at the Corner of Ottawa and Capitol to march on the Capitol.
What is happening in Michigan is part of a larger union-busting strategy planned by Republicans not only in Michigan, but in Ohio and Wisconsin, and Worker Solitary rallies are planned all over the country to fight the obvious union busting strategy. Teabaggers are also trying to provoke confrontations in Wisconsin as well as in Michigan.
Teabagger groups have attracted the most extreme rightwing and anti-government groups out there that include militias, secessionists and neo-Nazi white supremacist groups, and they are financed by cash laden Washington, D.C. lobbying firms. It will be tough to ignore them because they will do everything to provoke a confrontation, and we must do everything to ignore those attempts to give them ammunition.
Feb 19, 2011
Wisconsin residents are taking to the streets to fight their governor’s attempt to bust public sector unions, and Michigan residents will do the same next week.
Republicans in Michigan are trying the same thing, but they are much sneakier about it. Last week they voted anti-democratic and union busting House Bills 4214-4218 out of committee that will repeal Public Act 72, the current law governing emergency financial managers (EFM). The bills give them more power that includes disenfranchising the voters and terminate contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith.
On Tuesday Feb. 22 at 9 a.m. a citizen’s rally is being held in downtown Lansing to protest the union busting. They will gather at Central United Methodist Church, 215 N. Capitol, at the Corner of Ottawa and Capitol, to march on the Capitol and send a message to their legislators. They expect more than 200 people to show up.
House Bills 4205-4206 that will repel Public Act 312 will be voted out of the Government Operations Committee at noon on Wednesday Feb. 23. Because police officers and firefighters are essential to public safety, they are not allowed to strike like other bargaining units can, so PA 312 gives them a tool in negotiating a contract. PA 312 is the foundation of collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers in Michigan, and since 1969 PA 312 has provided a fair and equitable process for contract disputes between firefighters and police officers and municipalities.
Some 300 members of the Michigan Professional Firefighters Association are expected to send some 300 members to voice their displeasure for this union-busting measure.
The Government Operations Committee meets at noon on Wednesday in room 327 of the House Office Building, 121 N. Capitol in Lansing.
Additionally, the Senate Education Committee will vote out the Senate version of the anti-democratic and union busting EFM bills, SBs 153-158. The Education Committee meets at 12:30 p.m. in room 100 of the Farnum Building, 125 W. Allegan St.
The meetings, like all committee meetings, are open to the public.
Feb 18, 2011
The Michigan Republican’s war on the middle class and labor continues to go at top speed with complete disregard for the consequences.
Less than two weeks after introducing bills in the Michigan House that will repeal Public Act 312 of 1969 that allows binding arbitration of labor disputes for municipal police and fire departments, the bills, House Bills 4205 and 4206, are already headed to committee for action. It is rare that legislation moves that quickly.
Because police officers and firefighters are essential to public safety, they are not allowed to go out on strike like other bargaining units can, so this gives them a tool in negotiating a contract. PA 312 is the foundation of collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers in Michigan, and since 1969 PA 312 has provided a fair and equitable process for contract disputes between firefighters and police officers and municipalities.
It is rarely even used and when it is the local municipalities win 71 percent of the time, yet Republicans try to blame the financial difficulties municipalities are facing on PA 312 while ignoring the fact that revenue sharing payments from Lansing have been cut and property values are falling.
They are setting up a trap to first bust public service unions then they will go after private unions. However, they are being stealthier about it instead of being more open like they are in Wisconsin and Ohio, fearing the backlash from working Michiganders.
The new budget proposal introduced yesterday cuts revenue sharing payments and aid to public schools by $420 per pupil, sending many municipalities and school districts into insolvency, and they are expanding the law for emergency financial manger and giving them more power.
The EFM law already takes the power and authority out of the hands of the people legally elected by the voters and places it in the hands of a person appointed by the governor and the Legislature. The new bills will make it easier to appoint an EFM with several more triggers, and the bill also gives the EFM much more broader powers, such as allowing the manger to terminate contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith.
This is just one more union-busting measure, and if there are less police officers on the streets and firefighters ready to respond, Republicans think it’s worth it as long as they bust the union.
Yesterday Senate Republicans introduced Senate Bill 165 that will kill the prevailing wage law that calls for union wages to be paid on public projects. The bill was sponsored by Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, but it is co-sponsored by 20 of the 26 Senate Republicans.
HBs 4205-4206 that will kill PA 312 will be before the House Committee on Government Operations at noon on Wednesday Feb. 23 in room 327 of the House Office Building, 121 N. Capitol in Lansing. The meeting, like all committee meetings, is open to the public.
Feb 17, 2011
LANSING -- Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget he presented to the legislature on Thursday raises taxes on the most vulnerable and shifts taxes from corporations to kids, senior citizens and workers.
Reaction to the budget proposal was negative and widespread, with one Senate Republican saying Snyder’s proposal to tax pensions was a “non-starter.” Gilda Jacobs, the President o of the Michigan League for Human Services, said Snyder and Lt. Gov. Calley clearly broke their own rule when they said reforming the state's tax system should not pick winners and losers. The executive budget reduces business taxes by $1.8 billion but increases taxes on seniors and families by $1.7 billion.
"We have missed a great opportunity to modernize Michigan's outdated tax system,“ she said. “Instead, the administration has proposed one that simply shifts taxes from businesses to vulnerable kids, families and seniors.”
Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, also said Snyder failed to follow through on his previous pledge of moving all of Michigan forward instead of the same old politics of putting corporate tax breaks ahead of the people.
“Governor Snyder’s idea of shared sacrifice seems to mean that working families will do most of the sacrificing while companies continue to reap the rewards,” she said. “He is balancing this budget on the backs of our kids, working families, and our seniors. Contrary to his rhetoric about ‘moving all of Michigan forward’, this budget picks out who he’s willing to leave behind.”Among the cuts proposed include making all public and private pensions subject to state income tax, with the exception of Social Security income. This was discussed last legislative session because Michigan is only one of thee states that do not tax pensions, but the discussion included exempting a large portion of the pension income.
Among the many personal income tax credits eliminated or reduced including a reduction in the homestead property tax credit.
It also includes deep cuts to revenue sharing to cities, villages and towns, and it will trim the fund from nearly $300 million to $200 million. It will surely cause local governments to lay off police and firefighters. It will also push some municipalities into bankruptcy.
It comes at a time when Michigan Republicans are putting bills on the fast track that places dictator-like powers in the hands of unelected officials appointed from Lansing with no oversight. House Bills 4214-4218, approved out of committee on Wednesday, will repeal Public Act 72, the current law governing emergency financial managers (EFM), and give them more power and make it even easier for one to be appointed.
The Michigan State Police will have to pick up more patrols because of the loss of officers and entire departments, but the budget proposal calls for closure of Michigan State Police posts to save $3.2 million.
The campaign rhetoric of jobs, jobs, jobs is just that. He wants to eliminate business credits for brownfield redevelopment, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, Next Energy, advanced battery, film and renaissance zones. Already, films are looking elsewhere to film, and advanced battery manufacturing has huge growth positional in Michigan. He is actually killing jobs.
He is also mortgaging the future at a time when high-tech jobs are the wave of the future, and he is calling for cutting some $420 per-pupil in public education funding. That will devastate school districts, sending many into deficit districts.
He is also calling for concessions of $180 million from state employees. He also plans to eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit, GOP Saint Ronald Reagan called the “best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.” That move will raise taxes on some 800,000 Michigan low-income workers.
The various appropriations sub-committees will now start meeting to dissect the budget.
Feb 16, 2011
Americans don’t like having their rights stolen, and public employees in Wisconsin are reacting to having their rights stolen by taking to the streets in masse in Madison.
Extremist Republican Gov. Scott Walker is trying to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights, and more than 10,000 Wisconsin residents who love freedom marched on the state Capitol on Tuesday.
According to published reports, the protests are unprecedented in recent Wisconsin history, and the protests spread to the Milwaukee area, where hundreds of workers massed outside Walker's suburban home.
The city's schools are closing as teachers take sick days to join the protests and buses packed with public employees roll into the city. Students at the University of Wisconsin walked out of classes to protest the union-busting tactics.
Current and past members of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, a publicly-owned team, issued a statement in solidarity with Wisconsin workers seeking to retain their collective bargaining rights, as did the NFL Players Association.
“The NFL Players Association will always support efforts protecting a worker’s right to join a union and collectively bargain,” the association said. “Today, the NFLPA stands in solidarity with its organized labor brothers and sisters in Wisconsin.”
Walker’s effort is not about balancing the state budget because unions are more than willing to make concessions to help balance the budget like they have in local municipalities, it’s about busting the union.
This union-busting attempt is not unique to Wisconsin. Its part of a nationwide effort by Republicans to bust public sector unions and take away rights won with sweat and blood. With the Citizens United decision that has pumped millions of unregulated corporate and foreign cash into Republican coffers, killing unions will erase Democratic support.
Feb 15, 2011
LANSING -- Michigan Republicans are putting bills on the fast track that places dictator-like powers in the hands of unelected officials with no oversight who are appointed from Lansing.
The House Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs Committee took testimony on House Bills 4214-4218 on Tuesday that will repeal Public Act 72, the current law governing emergency financial managers (EFM) , and give them more power.
The EFM law already takes the power and authority out of the hands of the people legally elected by the voters and places it in the hands of a person appointed by the governor and the Legislature. The new bills will make it easier to appoint an EFM with several more triggers, and the bill also gives the EFM much more broader powers, such as allowing the manger to terminate contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith. It also gives emergency financial managers the ability to appoint people to committees and exclude elected officials from city business and bar then from running for office for at least six years.
Benton Harbor is one of four cities with an EFM, and they showed up in mass to testify against the bill. They say the current EFM has violated the city charter.
“If the bill passes it will have a negative impact on all cities and school districts in the state,” said Mayor Wilce Cooke.” It takes away the vote of residents, and it provides no oversight for the EFM.”
Rev. Edward Pinkney, the Head of the Benton Harbor NAACP and a courageous community activist who had a 3-10 year prison sentence for writing an article that criticized a local judge overturned in 2009, called the bills tyranny.
“Anytime you remove or suspend elected officials, you take away democracy and have a dictatorship,” he said. “He comes in and does what he wants.”
Pinkney said there is absolutely no oversight of the EFM, and these bills do not change that.
“We don’t even know what checks he writes,” he said. “There are no checks or balances. He has failed Benton Harbor, and you want to give him more power.”
Mark Docher, the President of the Michigan Professional Firefighters Union, said the bills provide no oversight and allows someone who knows nothing about fire safety making rules with no input from professionals.
“It takes away local control, and he is going to dictate what is acceptable risk,” he said. “What I always understood was that the EFM was to have the authority of the local government.”
The Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs Committee will vote on the package on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. in room 519 in the House Office Building, 121 N. Capitol.
On Tuesday a meeting of the Senate Education Committee was called for 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to take testimony on the Senate version of the union-busting bills, Senate Bills 153-158. The committee meets at 12:30 p.m. in room 100 of the Farnum Building, 125 W. Allegan Street.
All committee meetings are open to the public.
Feb 14, 2011
The next time you hear the Republicans talking about how they want less government and prefer local control, don’t buy it.
Michigan House Republicans are debating legislation they introduced last month that could lead to earlier intervention by the state in financially troubled communities school districts and almost dictatorial like powers for state-appointed emergency financial managers.
Rep. Al Pscholka, R, Stevensville, sponsored House Bills 4214-4218. The EFM law already takes the power and authority out of the hands of the people legally elected by the voters and places it in the hands of a person appointed by the governor ad the Legislature.
The new package of bills repeals the current law governing emergency financial managers, Public Act 72. The new proposal will make it easier to appoint an emergency financial manager with several more triggers that allow the state to review local finances, including missed paydays, a creditor with an undisputed claim or simply a resolution from a simple majority in the Michigan Legislature.
The bill also gives the financial manager much more broader powers, and that may be the reason it is so popular with Republicans; it allows the manger to terminate contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith. It also gives emergency financial managers the ability to appoint people to committees and exclude elected officials from city business.
It also allows them to make academic decisions in the case of school districts taken over by the state.
Currently, only the Detroit Public Schools and the cities of Benton Harbor, Ecorse and Pontiac have emergency financial managers in place, but with the constant reductions of revenue sharing to municipalities and the lower threshold there will be more.
It appears Gov. Rick Snyder wants to trash the constitution and be a dictator. There is a huge push in Lansing, as well as nationwide, to bust public sector unions, and this is just one more attempt.
The bills are currently in the House Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs Committee, and they are up for a hearing on both Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 15 and 16. The committee meets at 2 p.m. in room 519 in the House Office Building, 121 N. Capitol on both days, and the meetings are open to the public.
Feb 13, 2011
DETROIT -- So-called “clean coal” was a major topic of discussion for a panel sponsored by the Michigan Democratic Party Environmental and Energy Caucus at the party’s winter convention at Cobo Hall Saturday.
The panel featured Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, D- Huntington Woods, Rep. Jon Switalski, D-Warren, a member of the House Energy and Technology Committee, and Cyndi Roper, State Director of Michigan Clean Water Action. News that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) approved the construction of a new 78 megawatt coal-fired power plant planned by the Holland Board of Public Works broke late Friday that environmentalist had been fighting.
Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm put out an executive order last year requiring the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) to consider the need for new power or it could not be generated by a renewable source as a new requirement for granting a permit for a new coal plant, and that led them to reject the permit. However, a Circuit Court judge ruled that the PSC could not take need into account when considering a permit and the Snyder Administration issued the permit.
Clean coal has been a buzz word the last couple of years, but the fact is there is no such thing. Burning coal is a leading cause of smog, acid rain, global warming and air toxics.
“This idea of clean coal; my kids are like, what’s clean about coal,” Roper said. “It maybe cleaner, but it’s not a clean industry.”Despite all the Democrats in the room, Roper was critical of House Democrats and their jobs plan that included the building of the two coal-fired power plants.
She said because not an ounce of coal is mined in Michigan, millions of dollars fly out of Michigan at the expense of clean and renewable energy jobs, which is the fastest growing segment of Michigan jobs. In fact, a new power plant would lock Michiganders into sending money out of state to import more than $9 billion worth of coal for the next 50 years.
A coalition of Michigan environmental groups criticized the plan last month, calling the decision short-sighted when Michigan is positioned to attract tens of thousands of new clean energy jobs – on top of the 109,000 we already have.
In their defense, the House Democrats in the room said they were allowed to voice their disagreement with that portion of the plan that included the Hire Michigan First plan and building the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge.
“We have lost our biggest cheerleader for clean energy,” Roper said. “Fortunately, the Senate Dems have not given cover to Snyder’s plan to build coal plants.”The restively new topic of “Fracking” was also discussed.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process that can be used to retrieve natural gas. It involves injecting chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water into shale rock. The shale is then shattered, releasing trapped gas. The problem is that when the gas comes to the surface, some water returns as well, and this water is often tainted with poisonous, carcinogenic chemicals.
Recently located natural gas reserves in the northern Lower Peninsula have led to a flurry of fracking. However, gas production companies are not required to disclose the chemicals they pump into the ground unless there is an accident, but an accident in Benzie County should change that.
“For the first time ever, we will be learning what chemicals are being injected into the ground,” Roper said. “We expect we will have to FOIA it, and Halliburton is the biggest obstacle to disclosure.”
Feb 12, 2011
DETROIT – Reverend Wendell Anthony, the President of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP, fired up the crowd at Detroit’s Cobo Hall on Saturday at the Michigan Democratic Party Convention, giving the party faithful the zeal they will need to take back the country and the state in 2012.
“We are letting Glenn Beck steal the dream of Martin Luther King and turning it into a nightmare,” he said.
Thousands of people turned out fore the winter convention, and they spent the day in constituency and district caucuses, and they heard from Democratic leaders, both state and national. Party faithful had to get over their disappointment in November, and they talked about defending vital programs for the middle class and the poor and look to 2012 to re-elect President Obama and take back the Michigan and U.S. House.
“I say I’m the leader of the Senate Democrats not the minority leader because we are not the minority party in Michigan,” said Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing. “We don’t go from been an overwhelmingly blue state in 2008 to being the minority.”
Democrats simply did not turn out in 2010, and we have to do a better job energizing our base. The fact remains, when more people vote, Democrats tend to win.
“My opponent (in November) got four more votes; four votes more than the college kid who ran against me two years ago; I got 5,000 votes less this time,” said Rep. Mark Meadows,” D-East Lansing. “Now, that may be my fault, but there were 5,000 Democrats that did not come out to vote.”
Thursday will be, to quote extremist Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, like an atomic bomb was dropped in Lansing when Gov. Rick Snyder unveils his Top Secret budget recommendation. He has never said what will be cut, not during the campaign and not after elected, but pundits expect the cuts to be deep and extreme. His opponent in November, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, thanked people for supporting him, but he also said we must fight the cuts that mortgage Michigan’s future for some short term cuts.
“We are not going to let this crew come in and dismantle Michigan,” he said. “They say they are going to take back Michigan; they mean they are going to take it back to before the New Deal.”
Whitmer said the first goal is to defend against the elimination of the popular and effective Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), what former Republican President Ronald Reagan called “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”
They have established a web site to protect the tax credit Snyder wants to kill that helps reward 800,000 people who go to work everyday and helps families make ends meet by keeping more of their paycheck.
“He says it’s a handout, but it helps people who work 40 hours a week put food on the table,” Whitmer said. “He wants to take that and give it to his rich friends.”
The situation is not much different on the national level where Republicans want deep, damaging cuts after giving tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent that will deepen the budget deficit.
“Our Congress is in the mode of a reverse Robin Hood; they want to take from the poor to give to the rich,” said U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, said the situation is not much different in the Senate, but the good news is it is controlled by the Democrats.
“The party of nope has been happy just to stop progress; now, they want to turn back progress,” he said.
Levin also said Republicans are more interested in grabbing more power than solving the country’s problems.
“The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has said his top priority is to make Barack Obama a one-term president,” he said. “The top priority of Senate Democrats are jobs.”
Feb 11, 2011
Republican politicians in both Michigan and across the nation are attacking the unions and the working class at an unprecedented rate; busting unions, rolling back hard-fought workplace protections and widening the gap between the rich and regular people.
It has gotten so bad that new Republican Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond wherever is necessary in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights from state employees.
It appears that Republicans truly want to go back to the 1920s’ and ‘30’s when many workers gave their very lives for workplace dignity, safe working conditions and a decent wage; and we are even headed back to the Gilded Age.
In fact, we are headed back to 1928 when the gap between the wealthy and working class was so large it helped fuel the Great Depression. In 1928, one year before the global economic collapse, “the wealthiest .001 percent of the U.S. population owned 892 times more than 90 percent of the nation’s citizens. Today, the top .001 Percent of the U.S. population owns 976 times more than the entire bottom 90 percent.”
Already the gap between the super-rich and the disappearing middle class is huge, and bonehead and illegal moves by people like Walker will only make it worse. The fact is the U.S. is turning into a banana republic where there is a huge gap between the rich and the working class; something that is happening in the U.S. right now.
The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. That means the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.
No wonder Walker is acting like a Latin-American dictator.
In 1965 the average CEO was earning 24 times what the average worker was making. But by 2001 the C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 531 times as much as the average worker.
It makes no sense that to kill unions.
Saturday will be the first step toward taking back the Michigan House, the U.S. House, defending the Democratic U.S. Senate, and re-electing President Barack Obama in 2012 when Michigan Democrats gather in Detroit’s Cobo Hall on Saturday for the Michigan Democratic Party Convention.
The theme of this year’s convention is, “The Comeback Starts Now,” and will focus on improving Michigan’s economy and creating jobs.
“This convention will lay out the Democratic goals for 2011-12, and the main goal is creating jobs,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer said. “We need to be focusing on creating jobs, improving our economy, and making it easier for small businesses to succeed.”Various constituency caucuses will be held in the morning and district caucuses in the afternoon, and the main convention will at 3:30 p.m. where long-time Chair Brewer is seeking another two-year term. He is being challenged by what media reports are calling a “Detroit TV producer” named Ron Scott. I have never heard of him.
However, I think it's always a good thing for every office to have a challenge to give voters a choice, but I’m still supporting Brewer, despite the big losses last November. No one could have predicted the wave election, combined with the huge amounts of corporate and foreign cash pumped into GOP coffers.
Make sure to stop by the MDP Environment and Energy Caucus at 8 a.m. in room W2-68 and say hello. We have lined up some excellent speakers to talk about the attempted assault of the fragile environment by the Republicans in the Michigan Legislature, and the fight by Democratic lawmakers to fight the rollbacks of common sense protections.
A panel discussion will feature Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, D- Huntington Woods, Rep. Jon Switalski, D-Warren, a member of the House Energy and Technology Committee, and Cyndi Roper, State Director of Michigan Clean Water Action. Other elected officials will also be speaking.
See you there.
Feb 10, 2011
The Republican assault on the middle class, public employees and unions continues in Lansing, and this time they are going after firefighters and police officers.
Rep. Joseph Haveman, R-Holland, introduced House Bills 4205 and 4206 on Tuesday that will repeal Public Act 312 of 1969 that allows binding arbitration of labor disputes for municipal police and fire departments. This act has long been a whipping boy of conservative Republicans, especially the ones at the local level, and they falsely blame it for what they say are high wages and decent benefits for firefighters and cops.
"At a time of fiscal crisis in our state with many communities close to receivership, we must find ways to free the hands of local elected officials from outdated and costly statutes and regulation such as this," Haveman said in a press release announcing his introduction of these anti-union bills. "Binding arbitration results in incremental increases to benefits and pay that are leading many of our municipalities toward bankruptcy.”None of that is true. The real reason for the troubles of local municipalities is simply falling property values and reduced revenue sharing from Lansing year after year.
Because police officers and firefighters are essential to public safety, they are not allowed to go out on strike like other bargaining units can, so this gives them a tool in negotiating a contract. PA 312 is the foundation of collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers in Michigan, and since 1969 PA 312 has provided a fair and equitable process for contract disputes between firefighters and police officers and municipalities. PA 312 is intended as a last resort in negotiations, not as a bargaining tool.
Arbitration is actually rare, so the claim that it is bankrupting municipalities is just bunk. In fact, the non-partisan Citizens Research Council says an average of only about 33 cases a year go to arbitration – about 8 percent of fire and police debarments, and of those cases, the municipalities are successful 71 percent of the time.
Tell me again how this is causing bankruptcy?
It’s not clear what the elimination of PA will mean. Will it mean that police officers and firefighters can go on strike, or is it just another attempt by Republicans to bust the unions?
The Legislature tried to amend PA 312 last session at the urging of the Michigan Municipal League (MML) that represents city and village officials that really wanted to want to kill it. They blame PA 312 for layoffs and bankruptcies instead of falling property values and reduced revenue sharing, and they cannot produce a single instance PA 312 caused a municipality to go into receivership.
The MML’s false claim is that arbitrators are not allowed to take a city's ability to pay into account and compare the city's other employees to police and fire officials when deciding if salary and other requests are fair, even though a city clerical worker does not face the same dangers as a police officer or firefighter or have the same level of education and training. The fact is an arbitrator can take ability to pay into account.
A good compromise was passed out of the Republican-controlled Senate last year and the same bill passed the Democratically-controlled House, but when some anti-labor Republicans realized it was not anti-labor union and Democrats liked the bill, the bill's originator refused to send the bill to the governor for signature and bottled it up in committee.
HBs 4205-4206 were referred to the Committee on Government Operations awaiting action.
Feb 9, 2011
Working people all over Michigan will be wearing white shirts on Friday to mark an anniversary of a courageous event that helped create the middle class and gave workers of all stripes and occupation across the U.S. dignity and a safer place to work.
White Shirt Day marks the historic Flint Sit-down strike, the first of a series of sit-down strikes against General Motors at Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint. The goals of the striker were to earn recognition for the fledging United Auto Workers as the sole bargaining agent for GM workers, and to make the company stop shipping work to plants with nonunion workers.
On Nov. 18, 1936, the UAW struck a Fisher Body plant in Altanta. On Dec. 16, they hit two GM plants in Kansas City, and on Dec. 28, a Fisher stamping plant in Cleveland. Two days later they struck Fisher Body No. 1 in Flint. Within two weeks, approximately 135,000 men from plants in 35 cities in 14 states were striking General Motors. The strike lasted 44 days and became the first of many union victories, but the brave workers had to endure the possible loss of a job during the height of the Great Depression just for uttering the word “union,” cold, a lack of food, tear gas, attacks by police and the threat of attack from the National Guard to win their dignity.
White Shirt Day was first celebrated on Feb. 11, 1948 based on a suggestion from UAW Local 598 member Bert Christenson. He wanted a way to honor the men and women who participated in the 1937 sit-down strike, and the idea took hold. White shirts are worn to work on the anniversary of the end of the strike. This action was intended to send a message to management that "blue collar" workers had earned the right to the same respect as their management counterparts.
Feb 8, 2011
LANSING -- Senate Republicans made it official today when they introduced a bill to eliminate something that GOP Saint Ronald Reagan called the “best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”
Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, introduced Senate Bill 103 on Tuesday that will kill the popular and effective Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and they thumbed their noses at those working Michiganders just trying to make ends meet. They took a stand to make sure the growing equity gap continues to grow that has the richest 1 percent of Americans taking home almost 24 percent of the nation’s income.
“It’s easy to say no to the poor, and it’s easy to say no to the sick, “said Sen. John Gleason, D-Flushing, who has been a skilled trade millwright for 30 years.” I didn’t choose to run for office or to represent this state by taking my legislative or political efforts out on the poor, particularly the working poor. To say that we can’t afford to help the least of these is a pretty powerful statement. “
The Michigan EITC is based on the federal EITC created by Republican President Gerald Ford and expanded by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush. When it was signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in September 2006, it was introduced by a conservative Republican Senator, and it had overwhelming support; passing both the House and Senate by a combined vote of 141-3.
“So I have to tell you, I’m with the Gipper on this one,” said Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing. “I think the earned income tax credit should stay because it is one of the best public policies we have on the books to actually help the working people in the state of Michigan.”
The Michigan EITC is a refundable tax credit given to working families, not welfare. People apply for it when they fill out their state income tax forms. All families who are eligible for the federal credit are eligible for the state credit.
“I have heard comments from people in the Executive Office to people who hold gavels in this body saying that it is a handout for people who are not working,” Whitmer said. “Let’s really talk about the facts. This is about helping people who are working and doing the best they can.”The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
Feb 7, 2011
Many people are aware of Gov. Rick Snyder’s questionable past business practices, but he is apparently bringing some of those practices with him to the public sector when he was busted last week for cooking the books to try and make it look like public employees are overpaid.
The only plan Snyder has let out of the bag on how he plans to make up an estimated $1 billion budget deficit is on the backs of public employees, despite his constant talking point about “shared sacrifice” while he gives his cabinet large raises. To that end, Snyder released a report last week that said public employees are compensated more than double private sector workers.
But the fact is that study after study says when educational level is taken account, public employees are underpaid, like the report last August by respected Michigan State University professor of economics Charles Ballard that said state employees earn less than their private-sector counterparts with comparable educational attainment. The Ballad report also confirmed what we already know: state government is smaller now than it was in 1973. Doing more with less would seem to meet another of Snyder’s meaningless corporate buzz words, “value-based budgeting”
To reinforced and confirm Ballard’s work and debunk Snyder’s cooked study, a study released Thursday by Citizens for Accountability and Reform and the Economic Policy Institute found that public employees in the state are generally paid about market wages, but most state employees are below those market rates. The report showed that after correcting for education levels, state workers have total compensation 9.67 percent less than their private sector counterparts.
According to subscription only Gongwer, Jeffrey Keefe, a Rutgers University economics professor and author of the study, and of several others recently showing public employees around the nation are paid on par with or less than private sector, said the key failing of most studies showing otherwise is not correcting for education level.
"The single most important factor in determining somebody's level of earning in the U.S. is their level of education," he said. For Michigan public employees, 53 percent have at least a bachelor's degree and 17 percent have no more than a high school diploma. Among private sector workers, only 31 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher and 37 percent have no more than a high school diploma.
Feb 6, 2011
The right-wingers have no intention of toning down their violent and hateful false rhetoric, and in fact they have doubled down on it for their favorite boogieman, self-made billionaire and humanitarian George Soros.
I’m on the email list of a scumbag group called the “tax day tea party,” and they are going after Soros for a column he wrote in the Washington Post on the Middle East and the situation in Egypt.
It’s hilarious they call him “billionaire Marxist George Soros,” when he did as much to defeat Communism as anyone by funding dissident movements behind the iron curtain. But what is really troubling is they have established a web site to raise even more campaign cash called “Enemy of the State.”
Enemy of the state? Please. I get it you don’t like the fact that he contributes to Democrats, but enemy of the state? It’s even more disturbing that they have a photo of President Obama, and they claim it was because of Soros that U.S. Senate candidate and Teabagger Sharon Angle of Nevada lost in November.
The fact is it has more with her with saying crazy BS like unemployment benefits “spoil” the citizenry” in one of her rare interview with the real press, and she thinks people enjoy being unemployed in a state with the highest unemployment rate in the country.
The tea bagger email takes one paragraph out context of a well-written and thought out paragraph on the situation in Egypt to attack him.
"The main stumbling block is Israel. In reality, Israel has as much to gain from the spread of democracy in the Middle East as the United States has. But Israel is unlikely to recognize its own best interests because the change is too sudden and carries too many risks."Even out of context, that paragraph makes sense.
The right’s hatred of Soros is making them more irrational than normal, and calling someone something as stupid as an “enemy of the state” can do no one any good.
Feb 4, 2011
Last month in his second of eight State of the Union speeches, President Obama talked about the sobering fact that countries like China and India have realized the importance of educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science, and they are in a much better position to compete for new technology jobs.
He also said that over the next decade, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education, but that as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even graduating from high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations, and America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree. He said that call is the current generation’s Sputnik moment, and that we need to reach to reach the level of research and development that helped the U.S. win the space race.
“We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair,” he said.Apparently, a high school north of Dallas did not receive that message.
Allen High School in Texas is building a new $60 million football stadium that will seat 18,000 people. The new stadium will feature a multi-million dollar video scoreboard, a two level press box with film deck and observation deck, home side reserved seating with seat backs and 4,500 total parking spaces.
The stadium will be paid for with a $119 million bond approved by voters in in May 2009 that won with 63 percent of the vote. But in fairness, not only will the stadium be built, but the money will also be used to build an auditorium for fine arts and a transportation service center for the district.
It seems a little strange when Texas has one of the highest dropout rates in the country and the state is facing massive cuts in education that $60 million will be spent on football. In fact, the very district the high school is a part of is facing an $23.2 million reduction in state funding in its 2011-2012 budget.
The current Texas state budget proposal includes $31 billion in cuts in response to a $15 billion to $27 billion budget shortfall. That could mean a $10 billion cut to Texas public education spread out over two years. According to the local newspaper, school staff members have already started work on a mechanism for staff reductions. That can’t bode well for education, but again, in fairness, Allen High School is among one of the best academic high schools in the state.
Feb 2, 2011
The Republican’s answer to a problem caused by technology brought to light by an anti-teacher’s union witch-hunt is a bill that goes after unions.
The late anti-union activist Chet Zarko launched a fishing expedition back in 2007 by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the help of teabagger and former Howell School Board member Wendy Day seeking emails to embarrass the Howell teacher’s union.
Zarko, who passed away last summer, claimed the emails were sent on district computers during staff time, and they were used to lobby the public during contract negotiations. The district released some emails, but an injunction was issued stopping Zarko from receiving any more of the 5,500 emails.
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in January of 2010 that the emails sent and received on Howell Public School computers between union members were not public record, and they concluded that under the current FOIA statute the individual teacher’s personal emails were not rendered public records solely because they were captured in the email system’s digital memory. They also said this was unexamined ground in the law, and that this is an issue for the Legislature to address.
So, on January 13, freshman state Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, introduced House Bill 4052 that would ban the use of taxpayer-funded e-mail servers for public employee collective bargaining, and, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, which has devoted tons of column inches to this story, “appears to address concerns that teachers' unions — including the Howell Education Association — might use school computers to conduct union business.”
The bill would apply to all public employees and public employee collective-bargaining units that have access to public e-mail servers.
When the Court of Appeals ruled last January, it said that under the FOIA statute the individual plaintiffs’ personal emails were not rendered public records solely because they were captured in the email system’s digital memory. In other words, something as harmless as an invitation to a colleague’s retirement party that was once just placed in a teacher’s cubbyhole would now be a public record if was sent via email; even if it was sent on a private computer using a private email address as long as it was sent using wireless provided by the district.
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing in the story were the comments by Rep. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, who co-sponsored the bill and who Zarko worked for when he passed away.
"Chet certainly was all about FOIA, transparency, full disclosure of how government spends its money and the activities of government, making sure the taxpayer is aware of what's happening to their tax dollars," Knollenberg told the P & A.No, this was at attempt to smear the teacher’s union. I said it when I first started blogging about this back in 2007, and it is still true.
It’s also telling that the only other people the paper chose to quote was the righting think tank Mackinac Center, which is footing the legal bills, and the paper failed to mention it was a rightwing think tank.
The reporter did seek a comment from Howell Education Association President Jay McDowell, but he declined to comment because he said he didn't have enough time to analyze the bill.
This is a case that will affect every single school district and teacher’s union in the state, so a better quote to balance the story may have been a quote from the director of governmental affairs for the Michigan Education Association (MEA) or even the president of the MEA.
The “shared sacrifice” new Gov. Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder talks about and budget cuts national Republicans want will only come from the middle class and the working poor.
National Republicans will continue the polices that are making the U.S. a banana republic and ushering in a new “Gilded Age,” and Snyder wants to kill the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the most effective anti-poverty tool ever invented.
The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. In 1965 the average CEO was earning 24 times what the average worker was making. But by 2001 the C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 531 times as much as the average worker.
Despite that huge gap that continues to grow, Republicans forced an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest 2 percent in exchange for a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance benefits for people just trying to survive. That move will add more than $36 billon to the federal budget deficit.
In Michigan, while giving his cabinet large raises, Snyder proposed killing Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit for working people.
The Michigan EITC is a refundable tax credit given to working families. People apply for it when they fill out their state income tax forms. All families who are eligible for the federal credit are eligible for the state credit. The tax credit puts money into the pockets of hundreds of thousands of Michigan working families. The EITC brought $338 million into local communities throughout Michigan last year. That’s money spent directly into the local community on goods and services, not invested in offshore ventures.
“The Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit is a successful anti-poverty tool that helps low- and moderate-income families and small businesses in Michigan,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, the President and CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services. “Eliminating this credit amounts to a tax increase on our most vulnerable families and will tax working people into poverty.”
The Michigan EITC is based on the federal EITC created by Republicans President Gerald Ford and expanded by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush. In fact, patron saint Reagan called the EITC “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”
In Michigan, the EITC went into effect for Tax Year 2008, and, ironically, the bill creating it was sponsored by one of the most rightwing lawmakers, former Sen. Nancy Cassis, R-Novi.
“As this debate continues, let’s remember the faces of those in our economy who are helped by this tool: janitors, housekeepers, restaurant workers, daycare and home health aides, cashiers and retail clerks,” Jacobs said. “These are the very people who often are in charge of our loved ones, or who make our days easier.”