Tuesday, September 05, 2006

MI House leaders outline priorities for pre-election sessions
They're baaaaack!

I miss the summer already.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Both Republicans and Democrats in the state House are offering glimpses into their legislative priorities as lawmakers prepare to reconvene for pre-election sessions Tuesday.

Republicans hold a 58-49 edge in the House. That makes much of the GOP agenda a good bet to pass the chamber as lawmakers meet for three weeks in September.

The GOP agenda? Some feel-good measures to campaign on and... oh yeah... one more shot at the poor.

House Republicans say they want to wrap up work on a variety of bills they introduced or discussed earlier this session — including measures designed to combat mortgage fraud, identity theft and sexual predators who target children. House subcommittees also have been working on issues related to Michigan's parole and child protection systems.

The GOP also may push measures to change Michigan's welfare system, possibly including limits on how long recipients can receive benefits. Those measures have passed the House before but have not survived the state budget negotiation process, which includes Senate leaders and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

At a time when 19% of children in Michigan live in poverty, the GOP's mission is to throw those kids off of assistance.

Not work on the SBT. Not work on "creating jobs". No. Go after those hungry kids first. Republican priorities are to hurt the most vulnerable amongst us in a time when they need help the most.

The Free Press this morning called on Michigan's leaders to "shore up the safety net", a plea that is bound to fall on deaf ears.

Poverty and income figures also underscore the importance of protecting and improving Michigan's education system -- still the best ticket to a better future for poor children, whose numbers are growing at an alarming rate.

No one is poor by choice, especially children. The long-term solution is to create good-paying jobs, but state officials can't ignore the immediate plight of increasing numbers of Michigan residents mired in, or sliding into, poverty. They need help now.

If they pass the same welfare reform bill that Granholm vetoed before, as they did with the SBT last spring, we will know that they are just wasting time and taxpayer money and playing politics. Without the changes Granholm asked for, it's bound to get vetoed again, and all that effort will be an exercise in running out the clock.

"Many people realize the strength of our economy is linked with the state's overall tax burden, but it's also tied to important factors like education, children's safety and stopping crime," DeRoche said in a statement.

Maybe Craig would like to explain why he isn't working on the $2 billion dollar budget hole he created that addresses those very issues, huh?

Not likely. Not before the election. Expect all kinds of empty promises from DeRoche and the Republicans as they stall for time. When the election is over, out come the knives.

Democrats are working on legislation that will actually help people.

Democrats this week are expected to announce legislation that would extend the amount of time people who lose jobs could receive unemployment benefits.

The amount of money that unemployed people could receive in benefits also would increase under the upcoming Democratic proposal, Farough said.

Senate Democrats already have introduced a proposal that would extend the maximum amount of time a person can receive unemployment benefits from the current 26 weeks to 39 weeks.

Color me cynical, but I don't see this getting through. When it comes to actually helping people, the Republicans suddenly discover the wallet is empty. After all, they promised all that money for a healthy tax cut for Dick DeVos.

That should get those hungry children fed.

(I'm in a chipper mood this morning, aren't I? Must be the fact that I have seen about 15 campaign commercials already and I've only been up for a couple of hours...)