LANSING – The only jobs the Michigan Republicans have created since taking office in January are those for Emergency Financial Managers (EFM) after the Senate Republicans passed the anti-union and anti-Democratic EFM package of bills on Wednesday
The package will make it easier for financially troubled municipalities and school districts to be taken over by an emergency financial manager, and the bills give the EFM almost dictatorial like powers. The bills take 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, and it allows the EFM - which is why Republicans have placed the bills on the fast track - to terminate contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith.
Rick Snyder’s proposed budget has deep cuts in school aid and revenue sharing, and that, combined, with falling property values, will guarantee more school districts and municipalities are in finical trouble and ripe for takeover and government expansion.
“This bill, along with the Governor’s proposed cuts to revenue sharing and to our schools, is going to create a race to the bottom, which guarantees many of our cities and schools are going to head into bankruptcy,” said Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer.” How does this fit into the primary objective of jobs as job?”
The vote came on the very day that the Michigan Department of Treasury announced that more than 150 “student" are expected for the next Emergency Financial Manager training seminar slated for some time next month. Subscription only MIRS said “the course content in the two-day seminar will be expanded to include school districts along with local governments that might need what will be known simply as an "emergency manager" down the road.” Last month the two-day seminar graduated 65 people to go forth and shred union contr5ats and fire elected officials.
Like on Tuesday in the debate over third reading, a Democratic amendment to limit the salary of the EFM to that of the highest paid elected official in the state, the Governor at $172,000, failed. Seven Republicans crossed over to vote with the Democrats, resulting in a 19-19 tie, but the Lt. Governor broke the tie.
So far, the only job Republicans have created is that of dictator.
“I would ask the Governor and the Republican members of the Senate: Why are you okay with attacking the secretary who makes $35,000 compared—I would ask you, Governor, and the Governor you work for, and the members of your party: Why is it okay to challenge a secretary’s $35,000 a year job and have members in your cabinet who make $250,000 a year,” Whitmer said. “Why are you okay with attacking the firefighter who runs into a burning house, making $44,000 a year, risking their lives, and having a budget director making $250,000 a year? Why is it okay to attack a cop who ensures our community’s safety, making $46,000 a year, and not the emergency financial manager who can make upwards of $159,000 a year? Why is that okay?”
Yesterday saw 29 amendments floated, but the only ones passed were introduced by Republicans. After the defeat of the amendment limiting the pay of the EFM, Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, introduced an amendment saying that if the state is going to appoint an EFM and not limit the salary, the state should pay for the EFM. It only makes sense for struggling municipalities or school districts cutting the pay and firing trusted employees that live in the local community that the dictator from Lansing should be paid from Lansing. Predictably, it failed.
Many Democrats supported the idea of the early triggers that identifies early that a community may be in financial trouble and head off trouble early, but not the broad powers of an EFM. Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, introduced a substitute that retained all of the good points and got rid of the union-busting crap. But in the end, Republicans, like in Wisconsin, are more concerned with busting the unions.
“My concern is that, I think, we may be opening a can of worms, and we need to be very careful about these expansive powers that we are granting to emergency managers,” Hopgood said. “With this bill, as well as the budget and the laws and the stress that local communities and schools are experiencing currently, there is the concern that we are really balancing our budget through this bill on the backs of our employees, on the backs of our citizens who rely on the services for protection; in terms of our kids who are going to experience increased class sizes and schools that are closed.”
Because amendments were added to the main bill, it must now go back to the House for their concurrence.