Legislative Report

by Leo Sell, Legislative Committee Chairperson

From the perspective of the APA, several particulars out of the capital are worth noting. After years of disinvestment in higher education, Governor Snyder has proposed a very modest increase in state appropriations to higher education. While his administration tries to trumpet the increase, the fact is financial support for institutions such as ours remains woefully inadequate. The administration and the legislature would like to make the focus the increase and have citizens be ignorant of the fact that support for higher education was cut so precipitously over these years that even a $15+ million increase in the next budget for MSU leaves the university 10s of millions under the funding in place when the current governor entered office. Frankly, virtually all of the budget pressure is due to poorly conceived tax changes that benefited large corporations and wealthy folks and hurt people like you and me. All the while reducing the spend available for the things most working and middle class people support – education, roads, support for local city services. Which leads me to….

With the “discovery” of a billion dollar surplus, much talk is happening about reducing the state income tax. The purpose is in large part to keep reducing available revenue in the long run and keep “staving the beast”. This whole strategy that continues to be propounded by fiscal conservatives has been roundly disavowed by the original proponent David Stockman (Reagan’s OMB director). He has gone so far as to state it clearly does NOT work. And yet, here we are with the tax cut crowd continuing to try and starve that awful beast, the state and local government. The entities that provide support for police, fire, roads, civic improvement, education K-16, environment, etc. It is the wrong thing to do, but you can bet, it’s going to be done.

Lastly, speaking of the wrong thing to do – marriage equality has been in the news for some time now. MSU unions led the charge years ago to recognize same-sex partnership. We’re very proud of that leadership. And the flow of history is toward recognizing marriage equality. And yet, both the governor and the Attorney General are fighting the change tooth and nail in a variety of venues. This is a human rights issue and not a moral issue. Once again we see myopic politicals forcing their narrow belief systems onto the larger society. How does that happen? Well….

In the 2010 election, Michigan’s turn out was terrible. Only 44% of the electorate bothered themselves. Consequently it only took 23% of eligible voters to elect the current governor and much of the current legislature that is so hostile to working class and middle class interests. That turn out problem needs to change this year. Otherwise we will see a continued malaise in Michigan for the foreseeable future.