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Lame duck in the legislature, Ferguson outcry and help for Detroit pensioners

Nov 26, 2014

Students protest at the University of Michigan. A grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown kicked off demonstrations around the country.
Credit Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

This week, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss what to expect from the Legislature’s lame duck session, repercussions from Ferguson, and a fund to help Detroit pensioners.


Lame duck

The Legislature’s lame duck session will be in full swing as lawmakers make their way back to Lansing next week, and it looks like Michigan’s crumbling roads are on the agenda.

Earlier this week, outgoing House Speaker Jase Bolger announced a plan to boost road funding through a wholesale fuel tax. This comes after the Senate approved a bill to raise funds by doubling taxes at the pump.

Lessenberry said he’s worried neither plan will raise enough money to make the needed fixes.

“MDOT thinks we need more than $2 billion a year, the governor wants at least $1.2 billion a year, and it remains to be seen how much money [the Legislature] will come up with,” he said.

Ferguson

A St. Louis County grand jury announced Monday it would not indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown.

The decision sparked demonstrations across the country, some of which took a violent turn.

In Michigan, protests in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and several other cities were reasonably peaceful.

Lessenberry said he’s crossing his fingers things stay that way.

Pension fund

Detroit and the State of Michigan are putting together a $55 million “income stabilization fund” to help some pensioners facing cuts from the city’s bankruptcy.

Starting next March, Detroit retirees will see decreases to their monthly pension payments ranging from 4.5 to 20%.

Lessenberry said though the cuts will have an immediate impact, there’s a greater factor to consider.

“These pensions are no longer indexed for inflation,” he said. [That means] for all these retirees, especially the general retirees, every year they’ll have less money to live on.”

– Rebecca Kruth, Michigan Radio Newsroom