Thursday, March 26, 2009

Six O'Clock News - It's A Stimulus Miracle! Edition

~ The Senate unanimously passed the road portion of the stimulus funding today, which brings $847 million to the plate when it comes to jobs and projects for the summer construction season. We can get started now - go! Also, rumor has it that the state could pick up an additional $150 million if other states don't get their paperwork in on time. Or whatever.

There was a bit of a commotion out of Roger Kahn yesterday when he complained that his area didn't receive enough road stimulus $$, which brought about a response from, believe it or not... Mark Brewer! Go Mark!

Michigan's Democratic Party entered the skirmish over who gets what projects, bashing Kahn for withholding his vote the day before when the Senate committee approved sending the stimulus bill to the full membership for the following day's session.

Democratic leader Mark Brewer said $24 million is scheduled to go to Kahn's district.

"Kahn's lack of support is putting thousands of local jobs at risk," Brewer said.

Now that's what I'm talking about. No one wants to hear Republican whining about the stimulus when they wouldn't even support it in the first place, and it's very nice to see the MDP step up and help us out on that front. Keep it up!

  • ~ The Senate also approved the 10% pay cut for legislators, and that now goes to the House. Interesting to note: They did not record names on the vote. 29 voted in favor, 1 opposed, 7 did not vote. Perhaps the one opposed was Ray Basham, who had no problem standing up and saying "I'll look anybody in the eye and say I earn my pay". Senator Gretchen Whitmer tried unsuccessfully to get the Republicans to cut their staff to the same level as Democrats, which would save the state money as well. No dice. "You still haven't given up a darn thing. No nominations for `Profiles in Courage' here today," she said. Heh. The pay cuts take effect in 2011.

  • ~ Matt Marsden Funny of the Day: So, they passed a $250 million bill in the House that will speed up tax credits to auto suppliers. Here's Matt's response, from Gongwer:

    "Where are we going to find the money to pay for it?" The tax cut would have to be paid with spending cuts somewhere and the House Democrats have not proposed where those cuts would come from, he said.

    I had to reach for the Dramamine after that one.

  • ~ My favorite reporter Kathy Barks Hoffman noticed that the budget issues are "starting to feel a lot like 2007 all over again". Someone else (ahem) noticed that way back on March 9th. But, it's not like it was totally unpredictable or anything...

  • ~ President Obama has indicated that there will be help coming for the automakers. Much appreciated. Please stop wagging your finger now. I know that this isn't going to be a popular decision anywhere outside of Michigan, and it's necessary to "talk tough" to play to America, but as someone who never thought I'd end up defending these guys, I have studied and seen the progress and the sacrifice that they have already made towards improving their product and companies. They are doing their best. Besides, this is a LOAN, not a "bailout". So let's do this and move on.

  • ~ GM has announced that 7,500 workers took early retirement and will be outta there by April 1st. Since 2006, 60,000 workers have left the company. GM has enough workers on layoff to fill the 7,500 slots - but if production ramps up again, they may actually hire new workers at the lower-tier wage of about $14 per hour. Happy now, Senator Corker?

  • ~ Plymouth-Canton schools are applying for stimulus money that will help them go green, in hopes of saving up to $2 million a year on energy. Solar panels, wind turbines, and replacing Central Middle School with a new efficient building could create up to 500 jobs as well. In other stimulus energy news, the state will receive $76 million for energy efficiency efforts, ranging from anything to building audits to replacing traffic light with LEDs to transportation projects to capturing greenhouse emissions from landfills.

  • ~ Ending on a sweet note - the Kent County Humane Society has started the "Kibble Konnection", a food bank for pets in need. The first offering was a huge success, distributing food to 104 families that are struggling to keep their pets due to job or home loss. Donations of unopened food are being accepted at the shelter, and they plan to continue to do this on a monthly basis. Click the link for more info.