Michigan Department of Human Services

Michigan House of Represenatives Perfects the Ulitimate Dick-Move

Michigan House of Represenatives Perfects the Ulitimate Dick-Move

The Michigan House of Representatives — A Bunch of Bullies:

On the heels of yesterday’s GOP House threats to drastically cut funding for the Department of Human Services, (a dick-move cold enough to warrant the use of the kelvin scale), the House Appropriations Committee came through today with their previous threats to punish good-faith negotiations and passed an omnibus education bill that is intended to penalize schools and local units of government for legally renegotiating contracts prior to Right-to-Work taking effect on March 28th of this year.

And much like yesterday, the Senate refused to participate in this reckless and childish behavior. Senator Howard Walker (R) told the Detroit Free Press “What folks are doing at the local level, that’s a big issue at the local level and I’m not sure it’s appropriate for our budget”, and another Senate Republican, Sen. John Pappageorge (R), minced no words when he said “I’m not going to punish anybody for something they did legally”.

Although no one reasonably expects the penalties to become part of the final law, the House Appropriations Chair, Rep. Joe Haverman, explained their rationale for withholding funds thusly:

“I’d like to see the language stay, but we understand that we have to negotiate with the other side,…But the main focus should be that local taxpayers, students and parents be aware of what their boards did and if they negotiated a good contract.”

Democracy Tree submits that Rep. Haverman and his colleagues do not fully understand how the democratic process works under home rule in Michigan. Those elected boards that renegotiated the contracts in good faith were chosen by voters, and it is their business alone to determine if the boards acted in the best interest of the communities they serve. The last thing voters want or need is for a bunch of whiny lawmakers going about punishing their schools and communities because a minor loophole was found in a bad law that does not even enjoy popular support.

Enough with their blustering and bullying. Michigan House — Grow up!

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

Michigan GOP Human Services Budget — Welcome to the Gulag

Michigan GOP Human Services Budget — Welcome to the Gulag

The contrast couldn’t be more stark. Michigan Republicans and Democrats are not even in the same book, let alone on the same page, when it comes to what politicians like to refer to as “our most precious resource” — our children.

Michigan House Republicans approved a budget which will slash funding for the Department of Human Services, the agency that serves the most vulnerable among us. The budget proposes to cut 1,000 jobs in that department — 9 percent of its workforce. Under the GOP plan the agency will be severely handicapped in its capacity to handle the core functions of welfare, food assistance and child abuse cases. Worker’s caseloads would increase by 7 percent, adversely impacting foster care and child protective services. Although the state is under a court-ordered mandate to improve conditions in these services, Republicans refuse to adequately fund the programs.

A decline in services for children in need will predictably lead to increased delinquency and incarceration of the state’s poorest children. The GOP is additionally planning on privatizing three juvenile detention centers (Escanaba, Grayling and Whitmore Lake) to save money. As Democracy Tree investigated last year, privatization of prisons is not only a very bad idea, (that doesn’t save money), but it creates a de facto slave labor force.

What we have in the GOP House Human Services budget is effectively an initiative to make “our most precious resource” a lifelong slave labor market for private prisons.

Michigan Democrats also revealed their budget plans. The Associated Press reports that their focus is on K-12 and higher education funding and middle-class tax relief. Democratic House Leader Griemel said:

“Our priorities are tax relief for middle-class families, restoring funding to education and increasing economic security for Michigan families. The governor’s agenda puts corporations before middle-class families”.

It is safe to say that these priorities will not be reflected in the final budget.

The Senate Human Services subcommittee is set to vote this afternoon on their budget. Congress must then hammer-out their differences by the June 1st deadline.

Our most precious resource will surely be the biggest loser.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

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