Sunday, June 22, 2014

Somebody needs to take the class over

Now that the Michigan Legislature has disappeared for the summer the Detroit Free Press has issued a report card for the past legislative year. It looks like this:

Roads: F
* Funding for fixing roads was the highest priority. Because of the harsh winter residents were clamoring for something to be done. Didn't happen.

Democratic Process: F
* Legislature rendered meaningless voter referenda on wolf hunting, minimum wage, and abortion coverage in health insurance.
* Lawsuits challenging governor actions were diverted to a GOP-picked court.
* Blocked initiative by a GOP Secretary of State to disclose third-party political expenditures.

Schools: C
* Boosted spending for pre-K programs, but not enough to cover what's needed.
* Tweaked funding formulas so that an increase of funding per student goes mostly to corporate schools.
* Changed their minds about Common Core curricula, leaving schools in limbo and jeopardizing federal funding.

Social Issues: D
* That abortion insurance (mentioned above).
* Require poor people to perform community service to get benefits, though no consideration for those with transportation or child care issues.
* Never got around to adding sexual minorities to the state civil rights law.

Cities: B-
* An increase to revenue sharing to cities, but not enough to compensate for what was lost over the last several years.
* I add: Still too much reliance on the anti-democracy emergency manager law.

Detroit: A
* The legislature came through with nearly $200 million, their part of the “grand bargain” to get Detroit out of bankruptcy. That's a big thing in this state.
* I disagree with this grade. I'd have given a C-. First, see the comment above about city revenue sharing. Second, pensioners still face cuts. Third, nobody is going after the fraud perpetrated by the banks. Fourth, there are still fishy deals related to the bankruptcy that the legislature is implicitly endorsing. The legislature could have done a lot more.

If I had students with grades like these I'd be planning on seeing them again next year. But with a legislature like this I'd rather not see them next year.

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