It has become painfully obvious that we have a serious problem in our state's governance.
Last year, after 10 months of polarized, empty rhetoric regarding resolving the state's budget crisis, our Legislature was unable to avoid a brief shutdown of the state. It proved what we'd all begun to fear-political posturing and self-preservation now takes precedence over our state's well-being.
Last year's tax debacle is but the latest disappointment from a Legislature that is desperately in need of radical reform. In response, a coalition of groups supporting the Committee to Turn Michigan .Around (TMA) is leading an initiative to restructure Michigan's Legislature into a part-time body.
Nationally, Michigan's full-time legislature is the exception to the rule. The vast majority of the nation's states have part-time legislatures, and we think it's time Michigan joins them. Only California, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan still have classic full-time legislatures. The current pay rate of Michigan legislators is unnecessarily high. Despite our poor economic performance, Michigan's legislators remain the second highest paid in the nation, behind only California, at nearly $80,000 per year.
TMA's ballot proposal promotes limiting the Legislature to meeting a maximum of 100 session days per year that would need to be completed no later than May 31. In addition, TMA is advocating to eliminate lifetime health care packages for legislators, and to set their pay at 80 percent of Michigan median household income (roughly $38,000). Further, we are calling for the elimination of the failed experiment of term limits.
In making the Legislature part-time, legislators would be forced to concentrate their work and focus on the most pressing legislative issues. Moving to a part-time Legislature will also allow Michigan to compensate its public servants at a fair rate, one that is more in-line with what other states...