Friday, June 29, 2007

Michigan lawmakers cut back vacation, Granholm asks for pay concession

Major shift in the universe today.

Alright, what's going on here? Everybody have a little too much champagne last night? ;-)

Lawmakers begin a one-week summer break next week, scaled back from a two-week recess they originally planned.

Good for them. With the 4th falling on a Wednesday, next week is shot anyway- so, this is about all we really can ask them to do.

The battle over the state employee raises begins.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester issued a statement Thursday that said the Senate won't vote to raise taxes unless the governor solicits a give-back from state employees, who are in line to receive 2 percent pay hikes in each of the next two years.

Not solicits. He demanded she do it.

Does anyone find it odd that the Republicans screech and howl about "suffering Michigan families" when it comes to taxes, but yet they don't seem to care about the families of state employees? Or the caregivers of people on Medicaid? Or the low income people who should forfeit a tax credit?

Why is that?

Granholm fired back that the Legislature had the hammer to rescind the pay increases within 60 days of the negotiated agreement with state employees but they failed to do that.

"The constitution provides a way to stop those increases through the Legislature, but they did not even vote," Granholm said. "There's no way for the governor to do it unilaterally."

And then the truth comes out.

Bishop acknowledged to reporters that Granholm cannot solely cancel pay raises but urged her to try and renegotiate existing contracts, particularly with corrections officers who are paid more than the national average, he said. Boyd said the administration will ask for "additional reforms" when it negotiates the next round of contracts with employees.

Moving on, Granholm called for lawmakers to take a 5% cut in pay.

In a Capitol press conference, Granholm said each year she returns 5% of her $177,000 salary after taxes, and that lawmakers should do the same before they demand state employees to give more wage concessions.

Thought they already did that- but no matter. It would be a goodwill gesture.

Matter of fact, if they are really serious about "government savings", maybe they should consider a steeper cut. Show us how much you care, legislators. C'mon. Step up to the plate.

Do I hear 10%? Maybe 15%?

Republicans keep harping on the phrase "neighboring states"; how the people on assistance should receive the same rates and benefits as those in the states around us.

If that is their criteria, then it is only fair that they do the same, right?

According to USA today- here are the yearly salaries of legislators in neighboring states.

Ohio- $58,933

Illinois- $57,619

Wisconsin- $47,413

And, is this for real? Indiana- $11,600 per year.

Compare to Michigan- $79,650

So, what say you, legislators? Going to get in line with our "neighboring states", as you ask the poorest amongst us to do?

We will be waiting for your answer. Have a swell vacation.