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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of August 25, 2016

By Judy Augenstein

In his second Michigan visit in nearly two weeks, Donald Trump, Republican Presidential candidate made an appeal to African-Americans and Michigan factory workers. In his address at the Summit Sports & Ice Complex, Trump said no other group of people have been harmed by Democrat candidate Hilary Clinton's policies more than the African-American community.  Trump asked for the vote of African-Americans and outlined how the African-American communities have suffered under Democratic control and ask "What the hell do you have to lose by trying something new, like voting Trump?"

He outlined how NAFTA and the proposed TPP trade deals are bad for the country, but particularly for the Michigan economy and auto jobs.  He made a pitch for schools of choice and reaffirmed that "we will build the wall", a reference to the often mentioned structure he would like to see between the U.S. and Mexico.  Trump delivered a more tailored economic message to the Detroit Economic Club two weeks ago. 

The former director of the Senate Fiscal Agency, Mitch Bean, now with the Great Lakes Economic Consulting issued the following analysis this week......"The money coming into the state's coffers since Governor Rick Snyder (2011) took office is up 12.4 %, spending on the executive offices of elected officials far exceeds that percentage while spending on K-12 education, prisons, higher education and local governments is well below".   Bean stated "Everyone who campaigns for election to political office, or runs for re-election, talks about their spending priorities, but if you want to know what those priorities really are you need to follow the money":

2011-2017 budget increases:

 

Secretary of State    --   75.4% budget increase

Attorney General's   --    40% budget increase

Legislature               --    27.6% budget increase

Executive Office       --     22.6% budget increase

Auditor General        --     38.7 % budget increase

 

Meanwhile the basic per pupil foundation allowance is up 5.1 %, higher education funding is lower than it was in 2011.  Revenue sharing to cities, villages and
townships continue to drop by some $5.5 billion.  State employees have seen a 6.1 % increase, while the Department of Corrections has seen a 2.7 budget increase.  As far as other state departments not headed by an elected official, the General Fund portion of the Agriculture and Rural Department Budget comes across as a big winner.  The FY 2017 GF budget is up 15.9 % and since FY 2011-12 the GF portion is up 71 %. Some of the increase went to fund required inspections and regulations, and some was because of new programs being added to the department.

This week Jessie Augustyn, GLTPA and I met with Denise Pallarito, Chief of Staff to Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona to fine tune legislation to be introduced to allow a multiple use permit for truckers tailored after Wisconsin law.  Rep. Cole is required to have his list of priority bills for 2017 presented to the Legislative Service Bureau by tomorrow, Friday, September 26, in order for the bills to be prepared by the first day of the January session.  This issue is his top priority bill.
Denny Olson, GLTPA, Carmel Olson, Jessie Augustyn, GLTPA and myself attended a brief awards ceremony for Lauri Olsen, Transport Permits Division, MDOT where Denny surprised her with a signed/framed picture of the 2015 State Christmas Tree.  Lauri assisted him with obtaining the proper permits last year for delivery of the state tree.  We also met with Tim Hoeffner, Director, Office of Rail, MDOT and took the opportunity to discuss the on going lawsuit between MDOT and John Larkin, owner, E& LS Railroad over a $800,000 fine for a dispute over repairs at the Amasa Crossing in the UP.

The Legislature returns to Lansing to resume their agenda of work on September 7 and plans to work for three weeks then recess for two weeks.  The formal lame duck session begins November 9, the day following the November 8 general election.  Anything and everything goes during "lame duck", we need to stay vigilant---it is rumored that the legislature "may" revisit the gas tax issue.

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