Michigan’s Capitol looks more like a military compound today as hundreds of State Police officers patrol in and around the building despite the fact that there’s not a protester in sight.
It not only shows the continued contempt Republicans have for Michigan’s public as they try to keep them away from the Capitol as they finish jamming through their damaging “Right to Work” legislation, but it makes one wonder just how much money the state is spending on this massive police presence while they do it?
My advice for the thousands of you coming to the Capitol tomorrow: Be here. Be loud. Be safe.
Below is a sample of the photos we were able to gather this morning (click to enlarge):
This scene happened on the floor of the Michigan Senate this morning as the people of Michigan came by the thousands to speak out against Republican attempts to pass disastrous “Right to Work” legislation that would lower wages and reduce benefits.
Additionally, Republicans have called in countless State Police officers again today to guard their offices and question the public as they enter the Capitol to protest the Republican agenda:
Frankly, if you have to bring in a massive police presence in order to conduct business at the State Capitol, it might be time for Republicans to rethink what they’re doing.
Police have begun pepper spraying and removing protesters from the Capitol!
It’s not often you see the Senate Democrats arguing for one of Governor Snyder’s proposals on the floor of the Senate, but that’s exactly what happened today as the Senate debated legislation impacting the retirement plans of our public school teachers.
Senate Bill 1040 makes changes to the way Michigan’s retirement system works for public school teachers due to a long-term funding problem that could see the system essentially run out of money. Of course, this funding problem wasn’t actually caused by teachers (it just maybe has something to do with legislators diverting money out of it to plug holes in their budgets over the past 15+ years), but that isn’t stopping Republicans from blaming teachers for it as they make drastic cuts to the retirement plans our teachers have earned over a lifetime of hard work in the classrooms.
Nothing says “thanks for nothing” quite like telling our teachers you’re taking away their retirement check on their way out the door.
While Governor Snyder put forward a similar plan to what was passed today, his plan continued forward with a prefunded retirement system that ensures a certain amount of savings for the system. The legislation passed today, on the other hand, forces all new employees to switch to a “defined contribution” system, a plan that not only forces teachers to pay more to get less for their retirement, but actually will cost the state over $1.4 BILLION to implement while realizing only $300 million in savings.
Let’s do some quick math. $1.4 billion in costs – $300 million in savings = a total savings of negative $1.1 billion.
Yes, the Republicans actually passed a “savings” bill today that will cost the state over a billion dollars. And teachers will still suffer for it. Does this make any sense to you?
This plan didn’t make sense for us either, so our members took to the microphone to encourage Republicans to take another look at the original proposal from Governor Snyder and introduced an amendment that would rewrite the bill to use the Governor’s exact language. It wasn’t an effort to show we supported the Governor’s proposal, it was simply an effort to turn a terrible bill into … well … a less terrible bill.
Amazingly enough, Republicans shot down the idea. They wouldn’t go along with proposal their own Governor asked them to pass. Perhaps they thought it wasn’t punitive enough on teachers? Perhaps they just don’t want to listen to ANYBODY, even if it’s in their own party? Or perhaps they are trying to prove they’re better at attacking teachers than Governor Snyder is?
Regardless of the reason, the Republicans once again turned their back on bipartisanship today, even when we argued to use THEIR party’s plan. Apparently it’s just easier in the end for Senate Republicans to tune the entire world out, even their own Governor, than it is to work cooperatively to find solutions to the many problems that face our state. Unfortunately, as they do so, our hardworking teachers continue to pay the price for those mistakes.
Take a look at the statement made by Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer as she argues against this legislation today:
This past week, while debating the budget for the Department of Community Health, Republican Senator Howard Walker (R – Traverse City) added an amendment that would prohibit the department from enforcing the state’s smoking ban during certain types of charity fundraisers. This wasn’t an amendment created because charities from across the state have been asking for it, in fact it’s likely that the vast majority of charities would be opposed to it. Instead it was written to specifically allow smoking at an event in Sen. Walker’s own district so that he and his friends could sit around smoking cigars while the rest of us continue to follow the rules of the law.
Certainly, a 1-year state department budget seems like an inappropriate place to be making changes to statewide law like this, but it also shows once again the Republicans’ willingness to change the rules if and when they don’t like the results. They did it when they wanted to rewrite Oakland County’s district boundaries to benefit their party (news link) and even changed the rules of their own presidential primary when they didn’t like the outcome (news link).
What’s even more disappointing is that by carving out this exemption to Michigan’s smoking law, Republicans are opening the floodgates to further erosion of this law that is by all accounts working to both keep Michigan workers healthier and increase business at Michigan’s bars and restaurants.
If you think this is wrong, please take a moment to sign the petition at http://www.GOPsmokeout.com and send a message that no smoking means no smoking. Period.