democrats

Politics
5:46 pm
Sat April 23, 2011

Republican lawmakers making progress on drafting state budget

Early drafts of Republican budget plans include some measures that Governor Rick Snyder did not call for in his proposal for the coming fiscal year. Among them are new rules on embryonic stem cell research conducted at state universities and publicly funded clinics.  

Similar measures were blocked in recent years by Governor Jennifer Granholm and Democrats in the Legislature. New Republican majorities are renewing efforts to enact new restrictions and reporting requirements over the objections of researchers. They say the proposed rules would quash their work.

Governor Rick Snyder supports embryonic stem cell research and the voter-approved amendment that allows it at publicly funded facilities. The governor has not taken a position on the budget language. Sara Wurfel is the governor’s press secretary.   

“We’re going to be looking at everything closely when it comes through. The governor’s been very clear and consistent that he respects the Legislature and the legislative process. It’s still got a long way to go. It’s just one step.”   

And legislative leaders say these early versions of the budget bills do not necessarily reflect what will come from the final round of negotiations. The governor and legislative leaders say they’re on track to wrap up the budget by their self-imposed May 31st deadline.

Commentary
1:14 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Fighting for a Future

Here’s something you may not have thought about: Who are the Michigan Democratic party’s future leaders? The Republican landslide last fall eliminated a generation of politicians.

Today, the Democrats don’t have a single statewide officeholder, other than some judges and school and university board members.  Five of the six Democratic congressmen are elderly.

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Politics
4:01 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Redrawing Michigan's political map - Will it be fair?

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A state House panel will begin the process of redrawing Michigan’s political maps this week at the state Capitol. The redistricting process works like any other law that is approved by the Legislature and then moves on to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

The new political map will also most likely be contested and end up in front of the Michigan Supreme Court. But with all areas of government controlled by Republicans, many Democrats are skeptical that the process will be fair.   

Republican state Representative Pete Lund will chair the committee.       

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Politics
9:26 am
Mon April 11, 2011

Legislators ramping up debate on live-in partner benefits for state workers

At the state Capitol, House Republican leaders will resume their efforts to pick up 11 or more Democratic votes to reverse the policy of letting unmarried state employees claim their live-in partners on their health benefits.

The state Civil Service Commission approved public employee contracts at the beginning of the year that allow live-in partner benefits. That’s the only way the state can legally allow coverage for same-sex couples.  

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Politics
9:21 am
Mon April 11, 2011

Pace of state budget talks picking up in Lansing

Budget talks are ramping up at the state Capitol with just more than a month and a half left before Governor Rick Snyder’s self-imposed budget deadline.      

Governor Snyder still stands by his May 31stbudget deadline, even as many lawmakers say they do not think a deal will be reached before this summer. Legislative leaders point out that the earliest a budget has been done was in June. That was back in the early 1990s, when the state was flush with revenue. But Governor Snyder says there’s no reason he and lawmakers cannot reach a deal before the Legislature’s summer break.     

One area of the budget that appears to be a sticking point is education spending. The governor has proposed deep cuts to per-pupil funding for K-through-12 schools, and a 15% reduction to state payments for public colleges and universities.

Commentary
10:55 am
Tue March 29, 2011

What’s Wrong With the Democrats

A lot of people are uneasy about Governor Rick Snyder’s proposal to cut aid to education at all levels in order to balance the budget and give business a huge tax break. Even some of those in favor of cutting business taxes have problems with this.

They reason that no matter what happens, there aren’t going to be any jobs in the future for unskilled, undereducated workers -- and certainly not any good-paying ones. Our young adults are undereducated as it is, and cutting education won’t help.

So yesterday, we were alerted that the Michigan Senate Democrats were going to offer an alternate proposal. I was very interested to see what it would be. And frankly, I was hoping it would be an alternative I could support.

That’s because I am convinced that better education and training, more than anything else, is the key to Michigan’s future.

Well, I couldn’t have been more disappointed in the Democrats -- or in Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, a charismatic and intelligent figure who may be their best hope for the future.

The minority leader called for a state constitutional amendment that would prevent the governor from taking money out of the school aid fund in the future.  In practical terms, this is the equivalent of my calling for an amendment requiring it to be seventy degrees so I don’t freeze when I walk the dog in the morning. 

First of all, this does nothing to address this year’s problems. Even if the legislature thought this was a good idea, they’d have to agree to put it on a statewide ballot so people could vote on it.

That wouldn’t happen until long after this budget has been passed. But the legislature isn’t going to do any such thing. Republicans control both chambers. Democrats are especially weak in the Senate, where Gretchen Whitmer’s party has less than a third of the seats, and by themselves are powerless to do anything.

That’s not the worst part of her proposal, however. When she presented it to the media yesterday, she was asked this sensible question: If her proposal became law, how would Democrats then propose to fill the resulting deficit hole in the general fund?

The Senate minority leader refused to offer an answer -- other than to say the tax code should be “re-examined.”

This is precisely what has been wrong with Michigan government for the past decade, and what got the Democrats tossed out of office last fall. This is also why Governor Snyder’s plan is likely to be enacted. The governor has made a comprehensive proposal for changing the way things are done.

His numbers add up.

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Politics
12:48 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Important census data coming to Michigan next week

A U.S. Census Bureau form sent to a Michigan address last year
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state of Michigan will receive detailed population data from the U.S. Census Bureau next week.  The information will have far reaching effects.  In December, Michigan learned its population slipped by about 54 thousand , to just under 9.9 million people.  Now the details. 

The new census data breaks down Michigan’s population into a number of subsets, including race and ethnicity.  

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State of the City
6:37 am
Tue January 25, 2011

Lansing Mayor Bernero delivers State of the City address

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero
Photo courtesy of www.votevirg.com

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero delivered his sixth State of the City address last night. As Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports, he had a lot to say about past accomplishments but said next to nothing about the city's projected $15 million dollar budget deficit:

"Look around and see for yourself, it's happening in Lansing," Bernero said. That was the theme of Lansing mayor Virg Bernero's state of the city address.

To that end, Bernero spoke a lot about recent business investment in the capitol city.  He didn't speak directly to Lansing's projected $15 million budget deficit.

He did suggest part of the budget problem can be found across the street from Lansing city hall at the state capitol.

"City budgets across Michigan are on life support.   The loss of property tax values means the loss of property tax revenue.  High unemployment means the loss of income tax revenue.  And the continued failure of state government to manage its own budget problems has cost of tens of millions in state shared revenues," Bernero said.

Bernero also said Lansing needs to work with its neighbors to deal with a variety of regional problems.

Bernero was the Democratic nominee in Michigan's 2010 Gubernatorial race. He lost the race to his Republican opponent Rick Snyder. Snyder delivered his first State of the State address as Governor last Wednesday evening.

Politics
9:00 pm
Wed January 19, 2011

Democratic response to Michigan Governor's State of the State address

Gretchen Whitmer, Senate Democratic Leader delivers the Democratic response to the State of the State speech
Michigan Senate Democrats

The Democratic response to Governor Snyder's State of the State address was delivered by Gretchen Whitmer, leader of the Michigan Senate Democrats. You can watch the response on the Michigan Senate Democrats website. The transcript of Whitmer's speech follows:

Good evening,

The election this past November saw Michigan government turn the page on an unproductive time of Michigan history.

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Commentary
4:14 pm
Wed January 19, 2011

And, As for the Democrats

There’s a lot of speculation today as to what Governor Snyder will say when he makes his first State of the State speech tonight.

Well, we’ll find out soon enough. However, I’m also interested in what the Democrats are going to say in response. Now, there are a lot of people who think whatever they say won’t matter much.

After all, the Dems were pounded into the ground in the last election. They lost a record twenty seats in the House, where the Republicans have a sixty-three to forty-seven seat edge.

And they are in a lot worse shape in the state senate, where they now hold only a dozen seats out of thirty-eight. That’s the weakest position they’ve been in since 1954.

Nevertheless, what goes around does tend to come around. Nobody thinks Governor Snyder‘s honeymoon with the voters will last forever. Nor is it likely that all of his fellow Republicans in the legislature are always going to support what he wants to do.

These are also not normal times. Michigan has lost nearly a million jobs in the last decade, and has the highest unemployment rate of any major state in the nation. Additionally, it’s clear that our method of funding state government is broken.

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Politics
5:03 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Will Census cause Michigan to lose a seat in Congress?

Michigan is expected to send one less representative to Congress after the Census releases its numbers this week.
Jonothan Colman Flickr

This week the U.S. Census will release its initial population totals for the country and the states. That data will begin the scramble to redraw Michigan’s congressional districts.

Michigan will probably lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives when the new census numbers come out (going from 15 to 14 seats).

The state’s incoming Republican governor and Republican controlled legislature are expected to redraw congressional boundaries so they can favor Republican candidates.

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U.S. Senate
11:50 am
Fri November 19, 2010

Stabenow to chair U.S. Senate committee

Senator Debbie Stabenow
Photo courtesy of www.stabenow.senate.gov

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is set to chair the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Stabenow takes over the position from Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.  Lincoln lost her Senate seat to Republican John Boozman on November 2nd.

In a statement released today, Stabenow, a Democrat, says:

I am ready to lead the Senate Agriculture Committee in the 112 th Congress. Agriculture is critical to Michigan’s economy, employing a quarter of our workforce. Not only does agriculture create jobs and feed our families across America, but it is also helping us develop new fuels and energy sources.

Stabenow has served as a Democratic Senator from Michigan since 2000.

As the Detroit News reports:

Stabenow's position will give the Great Lakes State an enormous amount of influence over the next farm bill, which is slated for 2012. The bill is the cornerstone of the federal government's agriculture, food and nutrition policy and states like Michigan with sizable farming sectors have significant interest in its outcome; work on the 2012 bill began in April.

Election 2010
11:12 am
Tue November 9, 2010

Analysis: What went wrong for MI Democrats

Capitol Building in Lansing
Terry Johnson/Creative Commons

Kathy Barks Hoffman, of the Associated Press, has a great piece in the South Bend Tribune that takes a look at what went wrong for Democrats in the state before Election Day.  She writes:

Michigan Democrats started 2010 with their main candidate for governor withdrawing from the race, donors feeling the pinch of the poor economy and the drag of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's unpopularity hanging around their necks.

On November 2nd, Republicans won the Governor's office and the races for Attorney General and Secretary of State.  The GOP also widened their majority in the state Senate and won control of the state House of Representatives from the Democrats.

Hoffman notes that Democratic voters did not turn out to the polls like they did in the 2006 gubernatorial election.  She sites data from political strategist Ed Sarpolus that shows 300,000 fewer Democrats voted compared to four years ago.

Hoffman cites other reasons for the Democrat's loses:

  • Independent voters swung toward the GOP
  • Democrats didn't know very much about their candidates
  • Democratic candidate for governor Virg Bernro couldn't match Republican candidate (and now governor-elect) Rick Snyder's fundraising
Countdown to Election Day
11:24 am
Mon November 1, 2010

Tuesday's election will lead Michigan to lose 'Seniority' in Congress

Michigan will have at least 4 freshman members of Congress after November’s general election.

But all that new blood means Michigan is losing something special in Washington...seniority.

By January,  Republicans Pete Hoekstra and Vern Ehlers, and Democrats Bart Stupak and Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick will have packed up and moved out of their congressional offices in Washington. 

Hoekstra, Ehlers and Stupak voluntarily retired. Cheeks-Kilpatrick lost her party’s August primary.

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Countdown to Election Day
2:38 pm
Fri October 29, 2010

Tea Party Express rallies conservative voters in Michigan

Tea Party members attend a pre-election rally in Jackson, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Tea Party Express roadshow is making several stops today in Michigan in hope of energizing conservative voters before next week’s election.

 About 500 people crowded a vacant lot in downtown Jackson for the event which was part political rally and part fundraiser.

The tea party vote could be critical in several close congressional and state legislative races next week.

Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kramer says establishment Republicans and Democrats are underestimating the movement.  

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Election
3:06 pm
Fri August 27, 2010

Delegates roll up their sleeves at Michigan's nominating conventions

Ronald and Nancy Reagan at the 1988 Republican convention in New Orleans.
White House Ronald Reagan Library

Both the republican and democratic nominating conventions will be held this weekend. So what actually happens at these things? Aren't they just overhyped pageants so the parties can put their candidates on display?

While that might be the case for the national conventions, the Michigan conventions are different. Balloons and confetti are absent.  Horsetrading and backroom deals  rule the day.

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