It is no secret, in fact it is a matter of public record; legislators in Michigan make $79,850 per year plus $12,000 per year in tax-free "expense reimbursement." They are the third highest compensated lawmakers in the nation. In addition, they enjoy quality health care and retirement benefits after only six years work. Lawmakers in Michigan have all year to complete their work but typically meet in session only 100 days per year.
Most states have part-time legislatures. Texas, for instance, which has a much larger population and land area, is part-time. They meet for 140 days every OTHER year and are paid $7,200 annually.
Lawmakers in Michigan can be very busy and work lots of hours partly because they introduce and pass up to three times more laws than part-time states. That means more constituents who are unhappy with the ever-expanding government, and more interest groups lobbying for passage of new laws to regulate or tax others.
In spite of the fact that most cities, villages and townships and virtually all 550+ school districts need to have their budgets in place by June, the legislature can seldom seem to get the state budget finished before August. This puts great strain on the locals as they are unable to plan until they know how much they are getting from the state.
One might ask:
- If 39 states can manage with part-time legislatures, why does Michigan need a full-time legislature?
- If other states can find qualified individuals to serve in government for much less money, why do we need to pay so much?
- If the Michigan legislature meets 100 days per year, why does it take all year to get the work done?
- Why do retirees get such generous benefit after only six years?
A proposal is in the works to place an amendment to the constitution on the 2008 ballot which will do the following:
- Rather than pay legislators a full-year salary for 100 days work, let's make them work 100 days for 100 days' pay.
- Rather than let them take a full year to get the work done, let's make them get their work done in the FIRST 100 days of the year.
- Rather than pay them for expenses they never incur, let's reimburse them for ACTUAL mileage to Lansing and ACTUAL lodging if necessary.
- Give them adequate health insurance while they are in office, but no long-term insurance or retirement after they leave.
Does this proposal make sense? Please feel free to let me know your thoughts at: email@example.com. You can also get more information at http://parttimemichigan.googlepages.com.
See Jack on "Off the Record" with Tim Skubick
I will be appearing on a special edition of "Off the Record" with Capitol Correspondent, Tim Skubick to discuss public education funding. Also appearing will be MEA President, Iris Salters. The program will air on most PBS stations in Michigan on Monday evening, May 21st. Check at this link for exact time and stations. http://wkar.org/offtherecord/