Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Senate Republicans Obstruct Plan to Save 100 Michigan State Troopers

Usually, it is us jumping up and down about Senate Republican shenanigans, so it is really refreshing to see this morning that the Lansing State Journal took notice of their latest efforts to be a bunch of jerks. As you may or may not know, budget cuts came to the Michigan State Police in the form of 100 troopers being laid off, and the press went absolutely ballistic about it. No one ever offers up just where else we should cut instead, or how we get the money to pay for these guys, they just react with outrage that it is happening. It's frustrating.

Gretchen Whitmer came up with a solid answer for this dilemma though, taking her idea of legislator office parity that we have talked about before, and applying it to these cops. The House and Senate took a 4% cut on spending with this EO, but they never have addressed the fact that the majority offices receive more funding than those in the minority.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, tried to up the ante in the Senate. Last week, she modified her proposal to equalize spending on senators' offices, which she said would save $3 million, to direct the savings to the Michigan State Police. This would allow the state police to avoid the layoffs of an entire class of new troopers - a budget move that has come under particularly broad criticism.

Senate Republicans pitched their usual hissy fit at Whitmer, Chatty Matty Marsden reacting ever-so badly to the thought of saving state police jobs.

"Enough with the irrational screeching on this subject from Senator Whitmer's political pulpit," he said. "For the love of Pete, has she been AWOL this week? It was her Governor's E.O. that levied the trooper layoffs, to then turn around and use that issue to highlight her personal agenda sets a new bar."

Irrational screeching? Wonder if he said the same about Mike Cox and "political pulpits". And Cox didn't even offer a solution to the problem.

Whatever. Whitmer did, and here is what happened.

This being the Michigan Legislature, the step forward had to come with two steps back.

First, the Republican majority in the Senate set aside Whitmer's measure.

Then, Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, pushed a legislative move that bars reconsideration until at least Dec. 31, Gongwer News Service reports.

Nice, huh? The LSJ wasn't impressed. At all. They start with the pay issue.

This isn't about who's doing the work. After all, the Legislature backs a plan for six furlough days for most state workers. The sacrifice is broad because the need is broad.

Legislators, though, continue to hide behind the constitutional quirk that blocks an immediate cut in their own pay. Oh sure, they have gone through the requisite process to cut pay starting in 2011.

But how does that help Michigan now?

These same legislators are fine with cutting funds meant for staffers - the Senate will ask two furlough days of its staff, Gongwer reports. (How the House will absorb its cuts wasn't clear.)

And they end with a demand.

Michigan's fiscal problems are immense, but no less enormous is the crisis of leadership in Lansing. What kind of leader blithely accepts a full paycheck while expecting subordinates to absorb cuts?

What kind of public servant reduces jobs and services while continuing to enjoy the full perks of office, plus all the entertainment that lobbyists can provide?

Give the money back, legislators, give the money back.

Senate Republicans had the chance to save these troopers, and they blocked it while they screamed about "partisan politics". Once again, it's pretty easy to see just who is playing politics, and who is offering up solutions to our problems.

Even the LSJ can figure this one out. Didn't even need the bloggers this time.