Politics & Government
12:07 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Lessenberry talks minimum wage, issue ads and Detroit Public Schools

Week in Michigan politics interview

This Week in Michigan Politics Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss Mark Schauer’s proposal to raise the minimum wage, the political drama over issue ads, and the state of Detroit Public Schools.

Schauer wants to raise minimum wage to $9.25

Former Congressman Mark Schauer says he would make raising the state’s minimum wage a top priority if he’s elected governor. 

Schauer is the presumed Democratic challenger to Governor Rick Snyder next year.

Schauer wants to raise the minimum wage from $7.40 an hour to $9.25 per hour over three years.

Lessenberry says even if Schauer was elected governor, Republicans would still control the majority of the branches of government, so it would be hard politically for the proposal to pass.

But even if the minimum wage did go up, Lessenberry says it still wouldn’t make that much of an impact.

“Even when it was fully phased in, it wouldn’t be enough to lift a family of three out of poverty,” he says.

Drama over issue ads

Last week, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson called for a rule that would require the funders behind so-called issue ads to go public. Right now, ads that don’t directly call for a vote for or against a candidate or ballot question can be bankrolled anonymously.

But hours after Johnson called for the rule, Republicans in the Michigan Senate voted to boost donor limits to some types of political funds, and to allow the people who pay for issue ads to remain anonymous.

Lessenberry says the question now is how will the State House and Governor Snyder react to the issue.

A good sign for DPS, but there is still a long way to go

The city of Detroit and its public school system is under the control of emergency management, but we heard some good news this week about Detroit Public Schools.

The Michigan Department of Education has removed its “high risk designation” from the Detroit Public Schools.

Lessenberry says while this is good news, it doesn’t mean a whole lot.

“It’s like going from extremely critical to critical. It means the schools won’t have to have every contract over $25,000 put up for a bid and approved by the state. But they are going to remain under an emergency manager,” Lessenberry says.

Lessenberry says while the emergency managers have tightened the purse strings and gotten finances somewhat under control, the DPS deficit is still going up. He says Detroit Public Schools have less than a third of the students they had 10 years ago, and it’s going to be a long time before DPS is out of emergency management.