Wednesday, May 2, 2007


What will it take to turn Michigan around? One possible answer is to make Michigan a right-to-work (RTW) state. Read more below. 

Is Michigan Ready to become a Right-to-Work State?
In March I introduced legislation to make Michigan a Right-to-work (RTW) state. What is RTW? Simply stated, in a RTW state, an employee who works for a company that has a collective bargaining agreement with a union is not required to join that union or to pay dues to that union.  In essence, that employee is is free to enter into his own contract with his employer for whatever pay and benefits he negotiates.  Currently, Michigan is a "closed union shop state."
What is the difference in terms of economic performance? Here is some data to consider.
Between 1986 and 2006:

  • 11 RTW states added 104,000 auto manufacturing jobs

  • Non-RTW states lost 130,000 auto jobs

From 1970 to 2000 manufacturing employment:

  • In RTW states grew by 1.43 million

  • In non-RTW states declined by 2.18 million

In the last year:

  • Nine of the top 10 fastest growing states are RTW

  • Michigan is 48th in population growth

In RTW states, unemployment is below the national average.  In Michigan it is about 2% higher than the national average. Employment over the last 20+ years has grown 20.2% in RTW states, it has only grown 11.3% in non-RTW states. There are many other compelling comparisons between right-to-work states and those who are not, including, RTW states have faster growth in construction employment, a higher share of population who own their own homes, higher average annual incomes, faster growth in personal income, much lower percentage of residents receiving welfare payments and substantially higher numbers of residents and children covered by private health insurance.

The facts are convincing.  Michigan would do well to become a right-to-work state.

Has the Time Come for a Part-time Legislature?

The part-time legilature in Florida meets about 52 days per year.  Legislators are paid $30,000 per year.  In Texas, lawmakers meet every other year for a maximum of 140 days and are paid $7,200 per year.  In the great state of Michigan, lawmakers meet, on average, about 90 days per year.  But it takes twelve months to squeeze those 90 days in.  Many municipalities and virtually every school district in the state are handcuffed because, while their budget year begins in June, they must wait until September to find out how much revenue will be available to them. Michigan legislators are paid $79,850 per year, plus at least $12,000 per year for expenses. It's a full-time job with full-time pay, benefits and perks. Michigan is one of only a handful of states that pays a full-time wage for its lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the appetite for spending seems to grow with each passing year. As revenues fail to keep up with spending habits, new tax schemes are hatched.

The time has come for Michigan to enact a part-time legislature law. I propose that we do the following:

  • Limit the legislature to 90 session days to be completed between January and May.

  • Pay legislators $160 per day plus actual travel and lodging expenses.

  • Eliminate generous retirement benefits.

  • Require a 2/3 majority by both houses to pass a tax increase.

Because these changes require an amendment to the State Constitution, the proposal must go before the voters. If the legislature does not put this on the ballot (which they won't) the voters will need to do it by collecting signatures.

Do you agree that it is time for a part-time legislature?  Is it time tell lawmakers they cannot raise taxes unless two-thirds agree to do so? You can learn more at

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