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Ken Sikkema

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

The State of Michigan received some good news and some bad news this week. Projections show income tax revenue over the next couple of years will likely be less than expected: around $300 million less for the state’s general fund.

But the sales tax-based School Aid Fund is projected to bring in more than expected – about $340 million more.

The Michigan state capitol building
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Two sticking points in Lansing lately are prisons and infrastructure.

STEVE CARMODY / Michigan Radio

A House committee has approved a package of bills to expand the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to cover the governor and the legislature, with a few exemptions.

That has happened before, but Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof buried it. It looks like he might do that again this year.

Two of the biggest topics of the week when it comes to Michigan politics involved the proposal to mandate employers to let workers earn paid sick time and the effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When it comes to Michigan politics, two of this week's biggest topics were a proposal to mandate that employers let workers earn paid sick time and an effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.

Two of the biggest topics of the week when it comes to Michigan politics involved the proposal to mandate employers to let workers earn paid sick time and the effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.
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Michigan Governor Rick Snyder released his budget proposal this week, and there's a lot of discussion about how the state's money will be spent, or not spent, in the upcoming year. 

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This week, Republicans and Democrats in Lansing seem to agree that it’s time to expand the state’s open record laws to cover the governor and the Legislature. Michigan is one of only a couple states that don’t already require all lawmakers to be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, along with Vicki Barnett, a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside and said it might not be smooth sailing to the governor's desk. 

Dr. Abdalmajid Katranji and Dana Mosa-Basha supported President Trump's ordered bombing of a Syrian Airbase
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It's been a busy week in the world of politics. For instance: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette was accused of posturing, and President Donald Trump continues to stir things up in Washington.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, along with Vicki Barnett, a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to break it all down. 

Two of the biggest topics of the week when it comes to Michigan politics involved the proposal to mandate employers to let workers earn paid sick time and the effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The new Michigan legislature was in session this week, and there has been no shortage of topics to discuss.

To help sort through it all in Stateside's weekly political roundup is Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader; and Vicki Barnett, a former Democratic legislator.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The lame duck session for the Michigan Legislature has come to a close. Some people have called the end-of-year session "strange," but you can't say it was boring. There were a number of bills pushed through before lawmakers headed home for the holidays.

Now that the dust has settled, Susan Demas publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Stateside for their weekly political roundup to break it all down.

Michigan's lame duck session ends on Thursday.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The lame duck session for the Michigan Legislature is a time when politicians in Lansing often push through unpopular or controversial bills. Remember the right-to-work law in 2012

This year has been no different as there have been a number of proposals that have been floated through the lame duck session. However, in an unexpected turn, four big ones have been pulled back, which surprised many observers, including Susan Demas and Ken Sikkema who joined Stateside for their weekly political roundup.

Dr. Abdalmajid Katranji and Dana Mosa-Basha supported President Trump's ordered bombing of a Syrian Airbase
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is putting members of his own party in Michigan in a tough spot. With slumping poll numbers, there are some concerns that he could have a negative impact on down-ballot races in the Great Lakes State.

With Trump at the top of the ticket, what is the state of the Michigan Republican Party? There's party infighting, concerns about possibly losing the state House in November, and some candidates simply refusing to endorse or even answer questions about their party's presidential nominee, Donald Trump. 

flickr user Gage Skidmore/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A new poll by Epic MRA on behalf of the Detroit Free Press and other news media outlets across the state shows that Donald Trump has cut into Hillary Clinton's lead in Michigan. 

Clinton still leads, but with 38% compared to Trump's 35%. 

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate, is also gaining ground with 10%.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

The state Legislature gets back to business next week after its 12-week summer break. 

Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas joined us today to talk about what we should expect to see from the Legislature in the remaining months of 2016.

Flickr user Saginaw Future Inc./Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The legislature is off for its two-month summer break, but there will be a lot of work to do when lawmakers get back to work at the end of the season.  

Kenn Sikkema and Susan Demas joined us today for our weekly political roundup and two of the biggest issues that could be on the agenda when work resumes in Lansing has to do with renewable energy mandates and solar power regulations.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Water Advisory Task Force released its final report after a five-month investigation into the Flint water crisis, and according to co-chair Ken Sikkema, “It doesn’t paint a very pretty picture about certain state agencies, and even local agencies.”

Looking ahead to tonight's GOP debate in Detroit

Mar 3, 2016
Fox Theatre
Bob Jagendorf/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

It was just about a year ago when Gov. Rick Snyder was flying around the country, meeting with influential and powerful people, telling the story of Michigan's "comeback."

Those trips came at a time when Snyder was being talked about in some quarters as a possible presidential candidate.

What a difference a year and the Flint water crisis have made. In the heat of an intense electoral season, Snyder is nowhere to be found.

Budget tiles
Simon Cunningham / Flickr

Each Thursday, we talk to Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. Today, we take a look at Governor Snyder's budget priorities and the lingering question of how Michigan will fund its road improvements.

LGBT flag
antiochla.edu / Antioch University

Each Thursday, we discuss Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Today, we spoke about Governor Snyder's decision not to appeal a judge's ruling that says Michigan must recognize the roughly 320 same sex marriages that occurred in 2014. We also talked about where the state may be headed on LGBT rights.

Here's our conversation:

Michigan House and Senate take on new leadership

Jan 15, 2015
Michigan's Capitol.
Graham Davis / flickr

The Michigan legislature has begun its new session and that means new leadership in the House and Senate. Republicans have strong majorities in both after the last election.

Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics joined us to talk about the new leadership.

ACA ruling and its impact on Michigan

Jul 24, 2014
Michigan State Capitol
Jimmy Emerson / Flickr

This week two separate federal appeals court rulings came down on opposite sides of a key provision in the Affordable Care Act. This leaves thousands of low and middle income Michiganders who signed up for healthcare through Michigan’s exchange in a bit of limbo. 

Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, is joined by Marianne Udow Phillips, Director, Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. 

Phillips states that although these rulings were issued nothing is going to change immediately and that it is important to understand that the legal rulings will take time to play out. 

“It would have a huge impact and it would really push the whole system into chaos,” explains Phillips. “There are 240,000 in Michigan who have already gotten health insurance coverage through the health insurance exchange with a subsidy, and so were they to lose that subsidy, almost all of them would not be able to afford healthcare coverage.” 

Sikkema states that it is a very polarizing topic and coupled with an election year, politicians and candidates have honed in on the issue. “It already is a big political issue; it’s the primary political issue for Republicans who are running for office” says Sikkema, “but it’s really hard to look in your crystal ball and see what the future of the Affordable Care Act is going to be.”

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Every week, we take a look at what’s happening in Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Aramark, the company that provides food services for Michigan prisons, which has come under a lot of criticism.

Prisons have complained of food shortages and maggots have been found in prison kitchens. There have also been a number of issues with Aramark employees smuggling contraband into prisons and just this week, four Aramark staffers were fired for having inappropriate contact with prisoners.

According to Demas, when the state of Michigan decided to privatize the food services in prisons, the objective of the governor and the Legislature was to save money and increase efficiency, but so far it has been marred with problems.

Meanwhile, Sikkema explains that when the initial discussions were taking place about the most effective ways to save money, privatization was more of a priority for certain legislators, and not necessarily that of the Department of Corrections. Sikkema elaborates that the operational costs have gone up significantly over the past several decades, and as a result, legislators have called for some form of privatization to scale back the spending.

After issues began to surface with Aramark following the contract, Demas asserts that the response of the state has been keeping tabs and trying to correct the mistakes, but so far, there has been no push to try and eliminate the contract.

“I do think it clearly raises a question, whether the savings, which are estimated to between $12 to $16 million a year in a $2 billion budget, are worth the problems that they’ve encountered: food issues, sanitation issues, high turnover of staff, sexual misconduct, smuggling of contraband like marijuana into the prisons; I don’t see the contract surviving if these problems continue” says Sikkema.

Omar Saadeh - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week on All Things Considered, host Jennifer White talks about the status of state support for the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings and the risk of political fallout for lawmakers who support such measures.We have that conversation with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, 

Recently, Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by billionaires David and Charles Koch, announced they would run ads against a grand bargain for Detroit and against any Republican lawmaker who votes to support such a plan.

According to Ken Sikkema, while there may be some political risk involved for Republican lawmakers, it is imperative that the Legislature moves on this issue to get Detroit out of bankruptcy promptly.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Michigan State Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the state legislature has been steadily moving on a number of items that had trouble gaining traction in the legislature. Progress has been made on funding for roads, teacher evaluation legislation, and state support for the Detroit bankruptcy. With both the August primary and the November election approaching, state lawmakers moved on these issues in order to complete the budget by early June.

Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, spoke with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, about the recent developments in the state legislature.

Michigan state Capitol
Mattileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

This week, Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, examines the latest developments surrounding the Detroit bankruptcy case. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr spent two days in Lansing this week, trying to galvanize lawmakers to support a grand bargain to reinforce Detroit pensions while protecting the Detroit Institute of Arts. The state is being asked to contribute $350 million, but House Speaker Jase Bolger has balked at the proposal.

Ken Sikkema emphasizes that because it is an election year, Speaker Bolger will have a difficult time getting full Republican support to contribute state money to help with Detroit’s financial woes, and that in order for a deal to proceed where the state will contribute financially, it will rely on bipartisan support.

“The speaker is walking a fine line here, between driving a hard bargain to show that Republicans actually got something in the way of more accountability so that this doesn’t happen again,” Sikkema explains. “Down in Detroit, the pieces are starting to fall into place to make this happen and the last big piece is state participation. But he’s never going to get full Republican support for this, particularly in an election year, it’s going to have to be a bipartisan vote.”

Governor Rick Snyder gave his fourth State of the State address, Thursday night. In a speech covering a wide range of topics, he spent a lot of time focusing on his accomplishments and gave a broad overview of what he hopes to accomplish in 2014.

Joining us to take a closer look are Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Zoe Clark, co-host of It's Just Politics on Michigan Radio. 

Michigan's Capitol.
Graham Davis / flickr

Each week we take a look at what’s happening in Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. 

The state legislature is back to work, and as Sikkema predicted last year, talks are swirling around what to do with the state’s projected budget surplus. Estimates are putting it at about $500 million. What should be done with the money?

Michigan's Capitol.
Graham Davis / flickr

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

The legislature has wrapped up session for the year. And, after the holidays we’re entering an election year. Let's find out, besides the gubernatorial election, what other major elections should we be watching next year, and what might the legislature accomplish in 2014?

Wikimedia Commons

Each Thursday we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. 

This morning, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson proposed new rules that would require more disclosure of who pays for issue ads. The Senate added language to block the Secretary of State’s proposal, and approved a bill that would double the amount an individual could contribute to a candidate or a candidate committee.

“What the Secretary of State is trying to do is level a very unequal playing field when it comes to financing campaigns,” Sikkema explains. “Right now, a candidate committee has to disclose everybody who gave any amount of money, and there are severe limits on how much an individual can give. But independent committees do not have to disclose and there are no limits as to contributions.”

After moving quickly through the Senate, this proposal now faces the House.

whitehouse.gov

After a partial government shutdown that lasted 16 days, an agreement was reached Wednesday night to reopen the government. While both Democratic senators from Michigan voted "yes" on the bill to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House were split. In today's Weekly Political Roundup, we check in with our political analysts Susan Demas and Ken Sikkema.

No winners on this one

"Polls indicate that this is not a popular move. Everybody took a hit, especially Republicans. They certainly came out the worst in all of this," said Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. "So, that might be some incentive to not go down this road again, but unfortunately this has become the way that we do business in this country, whenever we have a debt limit or we have to fund the government this becomes a time a great brinksmanship where people want to try and get more of their agenda passed then we have in the past." 

Republicans' "fundamental mistake"

"I think Republicans made a fundamental mistake here in trying to negotiate either an end or major changes to the Affordable Care Act, which they call Obamacare," said Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants. "And, when you are in a negotiating position ... you don't ask the other side to give up on their most fundamentally held position.

"Republicans would have been better off if they had made their position something to do with entitlement reform, or debt reduction or maybe changes in the tax code because Democrats believe that all of those areas need change too. As long as they insist on tying this to de-funding Obamacare or ended Obamacare we are going to see the same result time after time, after time," said Sikkema.

Listen to the full interview above.

A look at Michigan politics this week

Sep 26, 2013
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for MLIVE.com and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Governor Snyder's "One Tough Nerd" commercials return signaling the start of a very long Election 2014 campaign season. And, we ask: Is the Tea Party losing steam? 

Listen to the full interview above. 

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