Politics
1:49 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

Lansing decides city budget tonight

The Lansing city council is scheduled to vote on next year's city budget this evening.   Declining property values and rising health care costs are forcing deep spending cuts. 

 City leaders hope an estimated 4 million dollars in state revenue sharing will allow a reduction in the number of possible police and fire fighter layoffs.

Jerry Ambrose is Lansing's city finance director.    He says the Mayor's office is also seeking 3 million dollars in union contract concessions, mainly in health care coverage. 

Read more
Politics
1:24 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

State economists expect Michigan tax revenues to be up

Economists say the state is expected to take in more than $400 million more than anticipated.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State economists agree that Michigan is expected to take in $429 million more this fiscal year than they forecast in January.

But their predictions for the next budget year have dropped as deep business tax cuts take effect.

Lawmakers will be able to use some of this year's surplus in the next budget year, and lawmakers are likely to consider putting some of the money toward easing deep cuts for public schools in 2011-12.

Without the business tax cut, the state would have gotten nearly $500 million more in the next budget year than state economists had predicted in January. But that will largely disappear as business revenue declines.

The heads of the Treasury Department and House and Senate fiscal agencies agreed on the revenue figures Monday.

Economy
11:50 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Economist: Michigan will keep adding 60K jobs a year

An economist says the resurging domestic auto industry is helping the state get back on its feet (assembly of the Chevy Volt).
Argonne National Laboratory

 LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A University of Michigan economist says the state's rebounding economy will add about 60,000 jobs annually for the next three years.

George Fulton says the state unemployment rate will hover between 9 percent and 10 percent through 2013 as job growth stays steady but not spectacular.

Fulton gave his economic forecast to state economists Monday at the Capitol. He says the resurging domestic auto industry is helping the state get back on its feet as the Detroit Three see their first increase in market share since 1995. All sectors except government are expected to add jobs.

Fulton says Michigan is in the early stages of a sustained recovery and that 2011-13 will be the best three years for the state economy since 2000, although some residents will continue to suffer.

Politics
10:30 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Newt Gingrich compares Obama's policies to "Detroit and destruction"

Don't look now, but the 2012 presidential election is under way, and candidates are working to score political points early - so why not take a potshot at Detroit while you're at it?

Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said President Obama's policies are "going to lead us down the path to Detroit and destruction" on NBC's Meet the Press.

Here's the clip:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Gingrich said Obama's policies are increasing dependence on entitlements. He called Obama the "food stamp president" in a recent speech in Georgia, his home state.

Read more
Commentary
10:18 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Redistricting Dilemma

When I was twelve years old, Sander Levin, who everybody calls Sandy, was my state senator. When I was eighteen, he ran for governor. He was elected congressman for the district where I now live when I was thirty years old. Next year, I will be sixty.

And Sandy Levin, who turns eighty this summer, will still be representing me in Congress. That’s not to imply that he isn’t still sharp. On the contrary, Levin was chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means committee until Democrats lost control of the House last fall. But he, and the Democrats, have a dilemma.

Republicans are  entirely in charge of the congressional redistricting process this year.  Michigan is losing a seat in Congress, and you know Republicans are going to try to eliminate one of the six seats Democrats hold, not one of the nine held by their party.

Everything I know tells me that they are most likely to throw Sandy Levin in a district with Gary Peters, now serving his second term in the House. Levin has far more name recognition and seniority than Peters.  If the two men are forced to battle against each other in a primary, he’ll almost certainly be the favorite.

Both men also say they are running for re-election, no matter what. But - should Sandy Levin really do this? Might it be better for him - and especially, for his party - if he makes a graceful exit?

Here’s why I say that: Most of Michigan’s Democratic delegation in the House of Representatives are old. Really old.

Next year, John Dingell will be eighty-six. Dale Kildee and John Conyers, eighty-three, Levin, eighty-one. The only exceptions are the just-elected Hansen Clarke of Detroit, who will be fifty-five, and Peters, fifty-three. Does it make sense for the state and the party to sacrifice the career of the fifty-three year old so the guy more than old enough to be his father can have another term?

Within a very few years, all of those lions are going to be gone, one way or another.

Does it make sense to lose all our experience pretty much at once?

Read more
Science/Medicine
10:13 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Michigan autism center to close after director leaves

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan plans to close its well-known, decade-old autism center when its director leaves this fall for a new post with a New York venture.

AnnArbor.com reports that Catherine Lord, director of the University of Michigan's Autism and Communication Disorders Center, plans to leave to head a joint effort between Columbia University
Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Lord says her two grown children who live in New York City drove her decision. The new Institute for Brain Development is to open next year.

Lord says a psychologist and a small number of researchers and staff will follow her to New York.

Lord says the Michigan center provides services for 300 to 400 people. Some federally funded research programs will continue.

Investigative
9:20 am
Mon May 16, 2011

More efficient early childhood services

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to create a more focused approach to getting young children ready for school.  The Governor says Michigan’s publicly and privately funded early childhood programs are fragmented, segmented; there’s not a coherent effort. 

Read more
Weather
9:10 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Parts of Michigan see risk of flooding, wildfires

The National Weather Service says parts of Michigan's lower peninsula are under flood advisories or flood warnings.
user doodlepress creative commons

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Heavy rains in parts of Michigan's Lower Peninsula have caused flooding while dry weather in the Upper Peninsula has brought an increased risk of wildfires.

Flooding was reported Sunday on freeways in the Flint area. WEYI-TV reports a pump that handles water on Interstate 475 under I-69 stopped working following a power outage. Workers put up barricades and signs warning drivers to stay off the road.

WJRT-TV reports heavy rainfall soaked a golf course, roads and yards other parts of Genesee County.

More rain fell Monday. The National Weather Service says flood warnings or advisories were in effect for parts of the Lower Peninsula.

In parts of the Upper Peninsula, the weather service says there was an elevated risk of wind-fed wildfires from Monday and into the weekend.

News Roundup
8:37 am
Mon May 16, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, May 16th
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Estimating the State’s Finances

A budget panel is meeting this morning in Lansing to figure out how much money the state has to spend in the fiscal year that begins on October 1st. It was announced on Friday that the state is expected to have half a billion dollars or more in revenue than was previously predicted. Some lawmakers want to use the windfall to roll back proposed budget cuts, including cuts to K-12 schools. Governor Snyder says some of the money should be put towards the state’s emergency savings.

EFM Repeal

A group looking to repeal the state’s new financial manager law is expected to detail their plans today, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Michigan Forward says it will talk about the coalition formed to launch the "Campaign to Build Michigan" this morning. The legislation signed into law in March gives state-appointed financial managers broader powers to correct the finances of communities and school districts.

The meeting will take place in Detroit.

McCotter: Not In

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia announced over the weekend that he will not run against Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow for her Senate seat in 2012. Rep. McCotter is yet another Michigan Republican who has decided not to run against Stabenow. Former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra and former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land both have said they will not run. Former Kent County Judge Randy Heckman is the only Republican to announce his candidacy for the seat.

Election 2012
6:40 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Rep. McCotter won't challenge Senator Stabenow in 2012

Livonia Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter says he won't challenge U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) in 2012.
Republican Conference Flickr

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia says he isn’t planning on challenging Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow for her Senate seat in 2012.

McCotter’s name had been talked about as a possible GOP candidate to run against Stabenow. The Detroit News reports:

McCotter, the fifth-term congressman who signaled last week he was considering a Senate run, said he's stepping aside for other GOP hopefuls.

"I did not wish to be a distraction for the stellar candidates now stepping forward to consider seeking the GOP U.S. Senate nomination," McCotter, of Livonia, said in statement that did not mention specific candidates.

Representative McCotter is just one more Michigan Republican who has decided not to jump into the race. Former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra and former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land have both announced recently that they wouldn’t seek the GOP nomination.

Only one Republican candidate has entered the race so far. Former Kent County Judge Randy Heckman announced he would run for the seat earlier this year.

Stabenow has held the U.S. Senate seat since 2000.

What's Working
6:29 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Education blueprint: North Godwin Elementary

user BES Photos Flickr

This week, What’s Working focuses on education by taking a look at one Michigan school that went from academic mediocrity to being a model for educational reforms in the state. North Godwin Elementary is located just south of Grand Rapids in a working class community with a high immigrant population. Many families in the area are refugees from countries such as Bosnia, Cuba, Vietnam, and Liberia. A high number of students spend a few years learning English as a second language. 

When Arelis Diaz arrived as a teacher at North Godwin Elementary in 1995, the students were struggling to reach proficiency in basic skills. She spent five years as a teacher, and then served as principal of the school from 2000 to 2005. In that time, North Godwin’s students began excelling on standardized tests, bringing student proficiency rates to upwards of 80 percent across all subjects. That academic success at North Godwin continues today. The school has been the recipient of praise and awards for its turnaround, including the “Dispelling the Myth” award in 2010, given by The Educational Trust. 

Read more
State Budget
6:11 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Snyder says revenue windfall could be used to roll back budget cuts

A budget panel will meet this morning to consider economic forecasts and project how much money the state has to spend in the coming fiscal year.

Michigan’s economy is in the early stages of rebounding and it appears the state is bringing in the tax revenue to prove it. Many lawmakers want to use the windfall - half a billion dollars or more - to reverse cuts to K-12 schools.  And Governor Snyder says some of the money could be used to roll back the size of proposed budget cuts:

“If there’s funds are available, we should be looking at how we deal with some of these cuts. These were tough calls.”

But Governor Snyder and other Republicans also say they want to be careful about spending additional revenue instead of fixing ongoing budget pressures. The governor says some of the money could also be used to shore up the state’s emergency savings in case the economy takes a another tumble.

Arts/Culture
3:23 pm
Sun May 15, 2011

Detroit Symphony to announce 2011-12 season this week

user earl53 morgueFile

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will announce its 2011-12 season on Friday, May 20. Most orchestras announced their seasons months ago, but the DSO had to postpone its plans because of a six-month musicians’ strike.

Drew McManus says the late announcement will likely hurt the orchestra’s revenue stream. McManus is an arts consultant in Chicago:

Read more
Economy
12:33 pm
Sat May 14, 2011

Christian book publisher Zondervan downsizes in Grand Rapids

Zondervan publishes Christian books, children's books, and Bibles.
Kevin Rawlings Creative Commons

75 workers will be laid off from Christian book publisher Zondervan’s distribution warehouse in July of 2012. Zondervan currently employs 325 people.

Scott Macdonald is president and CEO of the Grand Rapids-based company that publishes Bibles, children’s books, and Christian authors.

“We’re a family. We have a long history and heritage (in Grand Rapids). This is a significant impact on our family but it’s one that’s driven by a changing business climate and it’s the right decision for us at this time because of that.”

Read more
Economy
6:54 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Business leaders celebrating the end of the Michigan Business Tax

Many of the same West Michigan business leaders who voted in the 2008 Policy Forum attended a keynote speech by Gov. Rick Snyder in April. The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the occasion, and started the West Michigan Policy Forum.
Russ Climie Tiberius Images

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign the tax overhaul that replaces the business tax with a 6% corporate income tax on profits.

Leaders of the West Michigan Policy Forum touted "the MBT is dead!” in an email to around 600 supporters Friday. Those supporters voted 'eliminating the business tax' as their top priority during the Policy Forum’s first conference in 2008.

Read more
Politics
5:00 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

There's good & bad news today about Lansing's city budget crisis

Lansing city council president A'Lynne Robinson (right) talks to the news media about the city's budget crisis, while council vice president Kathie Dunbar listens, outside the Southside Community Center
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There’s mixed news today concerning the city of Lansing’s budget crisis.  City leaders have been trying to figure out how to deal with a projected 20 million dollar budget deficit.   

 N0w, city council vice president Kathie Dunbar says the city learned this week that its employee health care costs will rise 2 million dollars higher than expected next year. 

She says fortunately the state legislature has passed a budget plan that should guarantee the city 4 million dollars in state revenue sharing funds. 

Read more
Science/Medicine
4:29 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Wayne Co. launches initiative to improve health care for low-income kids

Wayne County has launched an initiative to improve health care for low-income children. The Wayne County Child Healthcare Access Program is modeled after a similar project in Kent County. It’s based on a concept called the “medical home.”

Project Director Jametta Lilly says that concept already exists for many kids covered by private insurance. But she says care is often less consistent and coordinated for kids in the Medicaid program:

Read more
Politics
4:26 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Governor Snyder defends tax plan

Russ Climie Tiberius Images

Governor Rick Snyder defends his tax overhaul, which has drawn a lot of criticism from the public in recent weeks, saying that he is confident that cutting taxes for Michigan businesses will create jobs. The Legislature approved his tax plan yesterday and it’s on its way to Snyder’s desk for his signature.

Read more
Politics
4:15 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

White House, Christie and others respond to Romney's health care speech at U-M

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The responses are in for Mitt Romney's health care speech, and they are pretty mixed. 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie praised former Massachussetts Governor Romney's honesty without commenting directly on either his policies or his candidacy. 

Politico reports:

Read more
Science/Medicine
4:09 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

MRSA bacteria found in meat sold in Detroit area

The MRSA bacteria, usually found in hospital settings, was found in samples of meat taken from Detroit-area supermarkets and meat markets.
From prep4md Flickr

Wayne State University researchers say there’s another reason to be extra careful when handling meat: It’s a bacteria that’s usually found in hospital settings.

You may have heard of MRSA – which stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.

It’s a nasty little bug that can be difficult to treat and can make you quite sick.

Dr. Yifan Zhang is an assistant professor at Wayne State.

Her research team collected nearly 300 samples of beef, chicken and turkey from Detroit-area markets.

Read more

Pages