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Political roundup: State Capitol building in need of repair; public money for private schools

Oct 7, 2016

  

The Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing was built in 1879, and later restored in 1992. Now, in 2016, its caretakers say there are some real problems with the guts of the building.

"It's a stewardship issue that has to be met by the current group of lawmakers, as for any group of lawmakers," said Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants who also served as a Republican legislative leader.

"The problems with the building are internal. Problems with humidity, etc. And when you have a building that old it's not really surprising. And it's also not really surprising that it's probably going to be very expensive to fix," said Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. 

Also, there's the issue with what the Michigan Supreme Court did -- or didn’t do -- this week. Governor Rick Snyder asked the court to give its opinion on whether giving $2.5 million to private schools to cover the costs of state-mandated requirements was a violation of the Michigan Constitution, which reads: 

There cannot be any direct or indirect “payment, credit, tax benefit, exemption or deductions, tuition voucher, subsidy, grant or loan of public monies” to non-public schools.

"I think the court signaled that they don't want to wait, and that opens the door for lawsuits. A lot of people have said that if the governor had misgivings he could have vetoed that line item instead of going ahead and signing the budget and kind of passing the buck off to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court said 'no thank you,'" said Demas. 

I really think that they [Supreme Court] said, 'Look we're just not ready yet let's have this go through the lower courts and if it gets to us we'll have an opportunity at that point to make a decision,'" said Sikkema.

Listen to the full interview above with Susan Demas and Ken Sikkema.

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