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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? Please feel free to contact me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more at www.parttimemichigan.googlepages.com