Who woulda thunk it, huh? Michigan legislators are highly paid STATE employees? But Michigan is a state with high unemployment, hanging in around 10%. In a state that put most of its eggs in the automotive basket, jobs are hard to find. Hmm. . . too bad the big 3 automakers didn't work on the electric car twenty or so years ago. They, and the rest of Michigan, would be sitting pretty right now. So much for hindsight.
Let's look at what's happening in the Michigan legislature right now.
Our STATE legislators are hard at work cutting the Michigan budget. Actually, they agreed upon a budget which was just signed by Governor Snyder. It has made deep cuts in our STATE spending, reducing STATE funding for education, increasing STATE employee health insurance contributions, eliminating some STATE jobs, adding taxes on pensions, giving tax breaks to businesses, eliminating many personal exemptions, and cutting unemployment benefits.
However, the legislators have barely touched their own STATE salaries. True, they took a 10% reduction in pay beginning 1/1/11. They have also just voted on reducing retired legislators' health benefits. Current Michigan lawmakers and their spouses with at least six years of service are eligible to join the Legislative Retirement System at age 55. The bill, passed February 2, removes the eligibility for legislators elected in November of 2010. Proposed legislation rolls this back to 2007.
In spite of all the hand wringing and talk of "shared sacrifice", legislators in Michigan are still highly paid for their PART-TIME positions. Legislators receive $71,685 plus a $10,800 expense account. There are no job requirements other than being a U.S. citizen and not a felon. Additional compensation is paid for speaker of the house, house majority leader, etc. Here is a schedule of salaries:
SALARIES AND EXPENSE ALLOWANCES FOR POSITIONS SUBJECT TO SOCC RECOMMENDATIONS
Office: Salary: Effective: Expense Allowance: Effective:
Governor $159,300 Jan 1, 2011 $54,000 Jan 1, 2011
Lt. Governor 111,510 Jan 1, 2011 18,000 Jan 1, 2011
Justice 164,610 Jan 1, 2002 n/a n/a
Legislator 71,685 Jan 1, 2011 10,800 Jan 1, 2011
Attny General 112,410 Jan 1, 2011 n/a n/a
Secy of State 112,410 Jan 1, 2011 n/a n/a
LEGISLATIVE SUPPLEMENTAL SALARIES
Office: Supplement: Effective:
Speaker of the House $24,300 Jan 1, 2011
Senate Majority Leader 23,400 Jan 1, 2011
Minority Leader-House and Senate 19,800 Jan 1, 2011
Maj. Floor Leader–House and Senate 10,800 Jan 1, 2011
Min. Floor Leader–House and Senate 9,000 Jan 1, 2011
Appropriations Comm Chair-
House and Senate 6,300 Jan 1, 2011
Speaker Pro Tempore-
House and Senate 4,962 Jan 1, 2011
taken from: http://www.michigan.gov/...
Many people are unable to make as much money as our esteemed legislators. I guess we should all try to run for elected positions. But, it takes lots of money to run a successful campaign. It's the old catch-22 here. You can't get money until you have some money. If you have money, you can be elected and make laws to protect you and your interests. You can throw out elected officials and appoint your own financial managers to run towns and school districts. Isn't that the definition of a plutocracy?
So, what's the big deal? The big deal is Michigan legislators appear to be exempt from many of the "sacrifices" they expect everyone else to make. The big deal is they are willing to balance the budget and cut the deficit on the backs of workers, seniors, and school kids while protecting big business and themselves. The big deal is they are eroding collective bargaining rights and offering funding with specific strings attached. The GOP majority in the legislature has "rigged the game" so that they are the winners.
Maybe the Michigan lawmakers will finally realize why their constituents are unhappy when they are faced with recall elections. Maybe the legislators will understand why the people in Michigan want to get rid of the Republican governor and the GOP majority. Maybe they will understand how hard it is to find a job, any job, and pay the bills when they themselves are out of work. Maybe.