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The state of Michigan has much to offer the nation.  It has wonderful public and private universities, miles and miles of sandy beaches and coastlines, innovative industries, historic Motown and more. However, because Michigan had put all its eggs in one basket, namely the auto industry, it is now suffering greatly.  Unemployment has reached the all time high of 14-15 percent. Many homes have been foreclosed and people have left the state looking for employment. Former factories and warehouses sit vacant, creating blight where they was once activity and prosperity.

So, hard times have reached Michgan and are staying a long while. People have supported food banks and soup kitchens and tightened their belts. At least some of us have.  The Michigan legislators have kept themselves pretty comfortable, however.  According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, our legislators are the second highest paid in the nation next to California.  Get that?  Two states with extreme financial troubles have the highest paid legislators in the land.

According to the State of Michigan website http://www.michigan.gov/... "legislators in Michigan receive a base pay of $79,650, plus another $12,000 annually for expenses. Leadership positions receive added compensation of between $5,500 and $27,000." Only California lawmakers get more.

Nationwide, the average pay for full-time legislators is $68,599, or 26 percent less than Michigan, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Mackinac group also noted that most states have part-time legislators, not full-time as Michigan does. "On top of their base pay and expense accounts, Michigan legislators receive health insurance coverage, including dental, vision and other benefits." These health insurance and retirement benefits amount to approximately another $12,000! To ensure their quality of life, after age 55 legislators who have served at least 6 years receive full lifetime health insurance. However, the present legislators, in trying to keep costs down, have eliminated that benefit to those elected after November 2010.

Well, gee, let's see.  We have cut out the public Great Start Readiness Preschool program, reduced benefits to the poorest people on Medicaid (no dental or optical for adults on Medicaid), reduced aid by $118 for every public school pupil, cut the Michigan Promise Scholarship funds (leaving many college students stranded and out of money mid-year), reduced aid to local libraries by 40%, cut over $2 million from Michigan's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, reduced the Dept. of Human Services (which protects children, the disabled and elderly), and much more. See http://www.bloggingformichigan.com/... for specifics.

Hmm... where else to cut, where, where, where?

The deficit projected in 2011 for the state of Michigan is another $1.6 billion dollars, according to the govenor's office. Another round of cuts is coming. I hope there are plans to cut salaries for legislators, because state and public school employees are facing cuts and taxes or reduction of insurance benefits. Spending per pupil may also be decreased again, which makes Michigan's children less equipped for the future.

Hmm... where else to cut, where, where, where?

If you don't live in Michigan, you may be fortunate right now. But what does the future hold for your state?  Take some lessons from Michigan to avoid the pitfalls of protecting your legislators instead of using your tax dollars to provide for your citizenry.

Originally posted to 50sbaby on Sat Mar 27, 2010 at 10:04 AM PDT.

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