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East Lansing Dem: Lawmaker Calls To Cut Own Perks

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dmr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-19-09 06:33 AM
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East Lansing Dem: Lawmaker Calls To Cut Own Perks
Democratic State Senator Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing. /

This was on the local news up here (TC) and the comments on the news station's website are very positive.


By Marc Schollett
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 1:53 p.m.
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A look what State Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) has brought to the floor in Lansing is the subject of this Fact Finder.

Standing on the floor of the Michigan Senate in front of her fellow lawmakers, Senator Gretchen Whitmer turned some heads when she recently proclaimed "The single biggest problem with Lansing, with this legislature is that politicians think that they come first, and they have lost touch with the people they represent." According to Senator Whitmer it all came to her in a moment of clarity during this fall's budget battle that nearly once again shut down the state. She says "I was just struck by how out of touch my colleagues seem to be and that has what was really inspired me to try and reform government because its not working." In a phone interview she told me "more of the reforms that I have proposed are prorating legislative pay each time the schools are prorated. Ending taxpayer funded lifetime healthcare benefits for legislatures, reducing salaries of legislatures who miss sessions and requiring that candidates who are seeking public office disclose their income and assets."

Major changes spurred by the Senator's notion that those in Lansing should follow the same rules as the rest of us. At a time when everyone in the state is taking a hit, she wonders why lawmakers aren't. The senator says such perks like lifetime health benefits after serving only 6 years is "overly generous and its time for it to end." Creating a level playing field and the same set of rules for the public and lawmakers is what she says is her motivation.

The recent cuts in education funding were also a driving force in her call for reform noting, "Cutting funding to our schools while leaving our own benefits salaries and perks intact is the height of hypocrisy."

So if the Senator has her way lawmakers perks and benefits will be cut every time school budgets are. When asked about the reaction her plans have generated in Lansing, the Senator replied "I am not very popular with others but I didn't run for office to become popular amongst legislatures. I ran for office to do the right thing."

The senator is also taking a good hard look at the expense accounts lawmakers receive. Each Senator gets $12,000 a year beyond their salary to cover what the Senator Whitmer describes as job related expenses but she says "there is absolutely no transparency and no tracking of how those expense dollars are spent."

So Senator Whitmer introduced SB 946. If approved it would require Senators to submit receipts before being reimbursed, and then how that money was actually spent would be made public.
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Here is actual text of the bill:

October 28, 2009, Introduced by Senator WHITMER and referred to the Committee on Local, Urban and State Affairs.

The amount designated as the expense allowance for a state officer under section 12 of article IV of the state constitution of 1963 and this act is payable only upon submission of receipts or other documentation of expenses. The state officers compensation commission shall post on a website available to the public the charges that are documented to the expense allowance of each of those state officers."
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MichiganVote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-19-09 08:26 PM
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1. -0- Recommends? See that's what's wrong with this state, its always somebody else's job......
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blue_onyx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-19-09 10:54 PM
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2. Yes, the fact that nobody wants to do their job is hurting MI
These ideas that Sen. Whitmer introduced won't go anywhere. Nothing will get done until 2011. Everybody is too worried about their next job to actually do their current job.

Unfortunately, if anything is to get done in Michigan, the voters will have to do it ourselves. I hope to see some ballot proposals in 2010. It's our only hope to fix our state. I want to see proposals to:

1. Enact a graduated income tax

2. Expand the sales tax to services (possibly decreased to 5%)

3. Legalization of recreational marijuana. Tax it and use the money to provide a college education to all Michigan students who have a 2.50 GPA and have lived here for 5 years. If we are to improve our economy, having a highly educated workforce is key.

With the Republicans controlling the Senate and DINO Dillon controlling the House, these types of changes will never happen unless the voters take charge.

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