Morning News
8:55 am
Fri February 18, 2011

In This Morning's News

Governor's Budget Draws Praise, Criticism

Governor Rick Snyder's budget proposal drew praise and criticism (though slightly more criticism) on Thursday.   The budget calls for deep cuts in spending across the board.  It also calls for taxing private pensions.   The Detroit Free Press described Snyder's budget as 'ambitious, but controversial:

An impassioned Gov . Rick Snyder delivered a politically radical prescription Thursday to heal Michigan's struggling economy: a big dose of short-term pain to get what he said would be long-term gain. Retirees, low-income workers and upper-middle and above earners would lose income tax exemptions and credits under the budget plan he presented to the Legislature.

Michigan's movie industry would have to make do without big incentives. Schools, universities, cities and state departments would have to make do with less. And state employees would pay much more for health care.

Unlike past budgets that ignored debt and future deficits, Snyder's plan confronted the issues directly -- a choice politicians often avoid. "This is more than a budget proposal," he said, "this is an opportunity to stop living in the past and start looking to the future. This is a defining moment."

The Lansing State Journal looked at how Snyder's budget will effect state workers:

The state's unionized employees will be asked for concessions under Gov. Rick Snyder's budget, but he did not detail how the state would negotiate to get the $180 million in targeted savings.

"There's not enough detail to set a position, to say the least," said Ken Moore, president of the Michigan State Employees Association. "It appears the governor's directive is that we may do (concessions) at the bargaining table. I am elated that it will be there, rather than having things shoved down our throat."

Moore added that the MSEA, which currently represents about 3,400 state employees, is open to discussing concessions. By contrast, a spokesman for a group of nonunionized state employees says Snyder better look somewhere else for savings.

"Employees think they've given up enough,"

John DeTizio is with the Michigan Association of Governmental Employees. DeTizio says the governor does not seem to be aware of a growing morale problem among nonunionized supervisors and administrators in state government. "Many supervisors are supervising people who earn more than they do," he said. 

The Detroit Symphony Strike Reaching A Crescendo?  

The Detroit Symphony has been silent for months as striking musicians have refused to accept deep wage cuts in a new contract.  This week, the DSO made its 'final proposal' to the musicians.   The musicians will vote on the proposal tonight.  The Associated Press reports its a deal that may determine if there is music this season:

Striking musicians met Thursday afternoon to hear the recommendations of union leaders. The symphony said Wednesday that management wanted an answer by Thursday on a final offer delivered earlier in the week to the musicians' negotiating committee.

On Thursday, symphony spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt said management planned to await the musicians' weekend vote before making any decisions, including about whether to cancel the rest of the season.   "We respect their voting process and we will not take action until the members have time to respond to our final offer," Weigandt said. 

The season is scheduled to end June 5, and an agreement could preserve the remaining portion of the schedule.  Symphony management declared an impasse Sept. 1 and began implementing a 33 percent base pay cut for orchestra veterans, from $104,650 to $70,200 in the first year. Musicians had offered to take a 22 percent reduction in the first year, to $82,000. Musicians' salaries would have risen in subsequent years.

Winter Returns 

We should start getting more seasonal temperatures across Michigan this weekend.   We already hit our high temperature in the 50's this morning.  Our Spring-like weather is giving way as a cold front moves through the state.  There's a chance of snow Sunday.