"They're sure not working for you"

Last Week Detroit News Editorial Page Editor Nolan Finley blogged about an article that Mackinac Center senior legislative analyst Jack McHugh wrote for Michigan Capitol Confidential about how government employee unions were using their political power to prevent the Legislature from passing modest pension and compensation reforms needed to address a $1.5 billion budget deficit. It cited, and Finley quoted, three examples from before the Legislature's recent two-week spring break. They were:

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  • A failure by the state Senate to adopt school and state employee pension reforms that would have saved nearly $600 million next year.
  • The "reconsideration" and defeat in the Senate of a prison privatization measure that had been already added to the Department of Corrections annual budget for next year.
  • The failure by the Senate to pass - and failure by the House to even consider - halting a 3 percent state government employee pay hike that will now go into effect on Oct. 1.

The article was titled, "Analysis: Government Employee Political Clout Obstructs Budget Reform" and can found on Michigan Capitol Confidential.

Update: The Senate returned from its break and did pass a watered-down version of the pension reform legislation that will save only about half the amount of the original. Its prospects in the House are dim at this time - even though Gov. Jennifer Granholm recommended a very similar measure - but that may change as the pressure increases to adopt a balanced budget before an Oct. 1 deadline (or sooner so they can hit the campaign trail).