Friday, October 14, 2011

Judge Blocks Privatization of Aides: Will Republicans Put the Budget Surplus Towards Care for Veterans?

The initial ruling to block privatization of the aides at the GR Home for Veterans was to schedule a hearing; today's ruling is the result of that hearing.

An Ingham County judge ordered a halt Friday to the state's plans to privatize nursing aide positions at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, saying she feared the change would cause "irreparable harm" to the more than 600 vets who live there.

The privatization plan "all comes down to money, really," said Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield, noting state officials said they need to save $18,000 a day by turning 170 resident care aide positions over to a private contractor who pays workers about half as much money.

"Budgets can be adjusted," she said. "The home can make cuts in other areas, or perhaps they can get some more money from the state."

Assistant Attorney General Joseph Froehlich, representing the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs that runs the home, said he will appeal. Manderfield denied his request for a stay of her order pending the appeal.

Yeah, about that money... this was supposedly going to save the state $4.2 million.

The state budget is now running a surplus of $285 million.

I think the Republicans can cough up a bit of money for the veterans, don't you?

“We worked real hard to get our budget under control, to get spending matching income, and I think if we do get any extra money at the moment, we need to either save in our 'rainy day' fund or use it to pay down the debt instead of spending money even more when we look like we may have less money down the road if the economy continues to tank,” said Republican state Representative Chuck Moss. He chairs the state House Appropriations Committee.

Um, wasn't that big tax cut for businesses supposed to improve our state's economy? Are Republicans now admitting that their economic policies are projected to fail?

The prosecution rests.

Give the money to the vets. Wonder if the courts can take that surplus into account when the state tries to appeal.