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Michigan Democrats Slam Latest Friends and Family Contract from Snyder Administration
Mar. 2nd 2015
$70 Million for A Better View? Democrats Launch Online Petition Urging Accountability for Republican Politicians
Feb. 24th 2015
Statement from MDP Chair in Response to Gov. Snyder's Proposed Budget
Feb. 11th 2015
Memo: Snyder's Record of Attacking Michigan's Most Vulnerable
Jan. 21st 2015
Snyder's Record Opposing Equality for LGBT Michiganders
Jan. 21st 2015
Democrats Call on Governor to Cooperate in Building a Strong Middle Class and a Michigan that Works for Everyone
Jan. 20th 2015
Memo: The Real State of our State
Jan. 20th 2015
Join us in Northern Michigan!
Jan. 11th 2015
Republican Leadership Must Condemn Agema for White Supremacist Screed
Jan. 7th 2015
Democrats Renew Call for Independent Audit Into Abuses at Snyder’s Housing Agency
Dec. 18th 2014
Democrats Call on Republicans to Drop Destructive Lame Duck Distractions and Just Fix the Roads
Dec. 12th 2014
Republican Voter Intimidation Campaign in Full Swing
Nov. 4th 2014
Reminder for Voters, Media on Michigan Voter ID Law
Nov. 4th 2014
Adam: He Would Knock on 500 Doors
Oct. 25th 2014
Pam: Working Until Democrats Win
Oct. 23rd 2014
MEMO: Facts About Snyder’s No-Bid Contract to Major Donors
Oct. 21st 2014
New Documents Show That Rick Snyder Hiked $17.4 Million No-Bid State Contract for Big Donor One Day After Hosting Glitzy Fundraiser for Governor’s Campaign
Oct. 20th 2014
Steph: Voting Early and Voting for Democrats
Oct. 19th 2014
Women across Michigan say ‘Enough is Enough’ to GOP Anti-Women Agenda
Oct. 14th 2014
Rick Snyder and Terri Lynn Land Bring Jeb Bush, Auto Rescue Opponent to Michigan
Oct. 13th 2014

Michigan Democrats Slam Latest Friends and Family Contract from Snyder Administration
Mar. 2nd 2015

LANSING - Today the Michigan Democratic Party released the following statement on the latest revelation of special treatment for friends and family in the Snyder Administration.

"We've seen again and again that a stunning level of corruption and cronyism is running rampant in Snyder's Administration," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "This latest report of a pricey law firm winning millions in no-bid contract extensions from the partner's wife in the Snyder Administration would be unbelievable - if it wasn't so familiar. Democrats won't rest until the Administration puts a stop to these ridiculous special favors for friends and family."

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BACKGROUND: 

February 28, 2015

A partner in a law firm that holds a $4.2-million MDOC legal contract is married to a woman who was the department's registered lobbyist when the contract was extended without bids in 2012 and 2013. 

LANSING – A partner in a Grand Rapids law firm that holds a $4.2-million Michigan Department of Corrections legal contract is married to a former Corrections Department official who was the department's registered lobbyist when the contract was extended in 2012 and 2013, records show.

The contract was to be extended by another nine months by the State Administrative Board on Tuesday, but the length of the extension was shortened to one month at the request of Gov. Rick Snyder's office after the Free Press raised questions about the contract in a Tuesday article.

Kevin Peterson is a partner in Peterson Paletta, which in 2009 was awarded the three-year contract to train and oversee inmate "legal writers" who help less-literate inmates draft court filings, including appeals of their convictions and lawsuits related to the conditions of their confinement.

Peterson Paletta was one of four bidders on the original contract and its proposal received the highest score in an analysis that considered prior experience, staffing and other factors.

Peterson's wife, Jessica, was the legislative liaison in the chief deputy director's office of the Corrections Department and the department's registered lobbyist from 2011 until January 2014, according to state records. She then moved to a communications role until she resigned in October 2014, department spokesman Chris Gautz said Friday.

Jessica Peterson did not work for the department when the contract was awarded, disclosed the fact her husband's firm had a contract with the department when she was hired, as required, and was "too far removed" from the procurement process to have a role in extending the contract, Gautz said.

But an attorney with an Okemos firm said lawyers there have been waiting for years for the contract to come up for bid and even met with Corrections Department Director Dan Heyns in March 2012 to let him know they were interested.

"If you're going to privatize government services, it should be done on a fair and equitable basis," said Alexander Rusek of White Law PLLC in Okemos. "They've had years to prepare, (yet) it was extended beyond the contract terms on a no-bid basis."

Kevin Peterson did not respond Friday to telephone and e-mail messages. Jessica Peterson could not be reached.

The contract with Peterson Paletta, initially worth $2.3 million over three years, was extended by one year at an added cost of $752,000 in July 2012 and by an additional one year, again for $752,000, in May 2013. The contract, at some point, was extended a third time, for a six-month period from September 2014 through Saturday, at a cost of $376,000, though that third extension was not provided for in the contract and had not received State Administrative Board approval, according to state records.

On Tuesday, the contract was extended a fourth time, despite the fact the contract provides for a maximum of two one-year extensions.

But instead of the nine-month, $564,000 increase requested by the department, which officials said was needed to give the department time to rebid the contract, the State Administrative Board extended the contract only one month, at a cost of $60,000. That was at the request of the governor's representative on the board, legal counsel James Robert Redford, Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said. She said the governor's office felt a one-month extension would be more prudent but wouldn't elaborate on reasons for the late change.

The board made that change Tuesday, the same day the Free Press published a report highlighting the little-known contract and reporting on criticism of the contract from both a fiscal conservative and an advocate for prisoners' civil rights.

Jessica Peterson didn't work for the department in 2009, when the contract was first awarded, though she did work at the Capitol then. In 2009, Peterson worked for two powerful chairmen in the Republican-controlled Senate. She was legislative director for Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, from 2007 until April 2009, and legislative director for Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, from April 2009 until December 2010, according to her work history on the social networking site LinkedIn.

Snyder, a Republican, took office in 2011, after the contract was awarded but before its initial three-year term expired.

Gautz said the two optional extensions were granted because the law firm was doing a good job. It's not clear why the department didn't move more quickly to get the contract rebid at the end of those extensions, as required, though lack of manpower and delays in getting administrative approval are likely reasons, Gautz said.

"We have multiple kinds of these contracts at various stages, through the department," Gautz said Friday. "Our policy is to know (when the contract is approaching its end date) and try to get that on the schedule."

"That didn't happen in this case, or at least as quickly as we would like," he said.

Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, said department officials have the authority to extend contracts without board approval if necessary to assure uninterrupted service.

Rusek said his firm believes it can provide better service at a lower price.

Gautz confirmed Rusek met with Heyns in 2012.

Rusek said he wasn't aware of Peterson Paletta's connection with a department official, but "any time you have the public and private sectors mixing in that way it causes some concern."

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Detroit Free Press: State pays law firm to help prisoners sue

February 23, 2015

A state administrative panel is expected to approve an extension to a $4.1-million contract with a Grand Rapids law firm that helps Michigan prisoners overturn their convictions and sue the state.

LANSING — A state administrative panel today is expected to approve a nine-month extension to a $4.1-million contract with a Grand Rapids law firm that helps state prisoners overturn their convictions and sue the state over the conditions of their confinement.

The contract with the law firm Peterson Paletta draws criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.

Some who are hard on criminals or want to cut the prison budget say it's ridiculous for the Corrections Department to use taxpayer money to pay private attorneys to help prisoners sue the state.

Advocates for prisoners' rights say the "legal writer" program — under which the law firm trains and oversees inmates who help less literate prisoners draft legal pleadings and complaints — is useful, but too few inmates receive too little help from it.

Prison officials say the program, which costs about $752,000 a year, was created pursuant to a 1996 federal court order arising from a 1992 prisoner lawsuit.

Peterson Paletta, which is not the first law firm hired to train the inmate legal writers and monitor their work, was hired in 2009 for a three-year contract that has already been extended twice. Today, the State Administrative Board is considering a third contract extension, which is nine months long and worth $564,000, bringing the total contract value to $4.7 million.

Kevin Peterson, a partner in Peterson Paletta, mostly declined comment on the contract, referring questions to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

State officials said in their submission to the State Administrative Board that the latest extension is needed to give time to rebid the contract and provide for a transition period if the contract is won by a different firm. The contract itself is needed "to comply with the prisoners' constitutional right of access to the courts."

Only a minority of the state's 43,000 prisoners are eligible for the program. The others are expected to do their own legal work by making use of the prison law libraries, which the department is in the process of converting from libraries with books to libraries that will be electronic only.

About 29,000 prisoners who have a high school diploma or GED are generally not eligible, leaving fewer than 15,000 who are eligible on that basis. Inmates can also qualify for the program if they can't speak or write English or have a mental or physical disability that prevents them from using the law library, or are in segregation.

Neither Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, nor Peterson of Peterson Paletta could say Monday how many inmates use the service in a given year. Inmate legal writers receive about 80 hours of training from the law firm over about six weeks. The firm also provides computers to communicate with the inmate legal writers.

Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, said when the state charges citizens with criminal offenses it has an obligation to provide legal defense to those who can't afford one.

But if an inmate has a legitimate complaint about prison conditions, "I would imagine they would be able to find attorneys who would be happy to take their cases (on a contingency basis), because they would be eligible to collect for it," Drolet said. "They should find representation the same way everybody else has to."

But Peter Martel, a program associate for the American Friends Service Committee's criminal justice program in Ann Arbor, said changes to state law, including caps on allowable attorney fees and the ability of the state to waive attorney fees as part of a case settlement, make it highly unlikely attorneys will take prisoner cases on a contingency basis.

Martel, who worked as a prison legal writer in the 2000s when he was incarcerated for armed robbery and now is studying to be an attorney, said the program provides positive training for inmates who do good work for their fellow prisoners.

A weakness of the program, Martel said, is that inmates must complete the administrative complaint process before they are eligible to sue and they aren't allowed to get the help of legal writers to help with the complex administrative hearing process. As a result, he said, many potentially legitimate legal claims get barred because of mistakes.

It would be useful if inmates with some legal training could get involved earlier, even to tell prisoners what not to waste their time on, he said. "There are all kinds of things to complain about in prison; that doesn't necessarily make them good legal complaints," he said.

As for attempts to overturn convictions, court-appointed attorneys help with one appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals, Martel said. After that, inmates are on their own, and the legal writers are needed to help make sure pleadings get to the Michigan Supreme Court or federal courts on a timely basis, Martel said.

The State Administrative Board — which includes representatives of the governor, the attorney general and other top state officials — is normally a rubber stamp for contracts sent by the administration for approval.

$70 Million for A Better View? Democrats Launch Online Petition Urging Accountability for Republican Politicians
Feb. 24th 2015

Michiganders to Meekhof, Snyder: spend millions on roads, schools, middle class, not fancy new offices for Senate GOP

LANSING - Today the Michigan Democratic Party launched an online petition and lawmaker accountability project focused on Senate Republicans' outrageous attempt to waste our tax dollars on a fancy new office building. 

"Michiganders have a very clear message for Republican politicians: they've had enough of special treatment and cronyism in state government," said Garrett Arwa, Michigan Democratic Party Executive Director. "This $70 million 'room with a view' move is nothing more than a boondoggle, and it's offensive that it comes at a time when the state is asking taxpayers to shoulder a half billion dollar budget deficit, because of Snyder's billion-dollar handouts to corporations."

When asked in a House hearing if the office move was to ensure senators would have a better view of the state Capitol, then-Senate secretary Carol Viventi replied "pretty much." To add further insult to Michigan taxpayers, the current Senate office building could be renovated for less than half of the price tag of this planned office shuffle.

Democrats also highlighted another hallmark of Gov. Snyder's time in office: since 2011, state government debt has increased by $2 billion, according to Snyder's own dashboard. 

"Rick Snyder and Republican politicians have already asked hardworking Michigan families to pick up the tab for their irresponsible budgeting, in the form of billions in new taxes and new cuts to health and public safety programs," continued Arwa. "Now, we're being asked for another $70 million in unnecessary debt, all so Republican politicians can move their offices one block to get a better view of the Capitol."

###

NOTE: The online petition can be viewed here.

BACKGROUND: 

"Not all of the offices face the Capitol, is that the crux of the problem?" asked a skeptical Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills). "Pretty much," Viventi said. "Isn’t this an expensive proposition for taxpayers in order to make sure that senators get a better view of the Capitol?" Greimel asked. ["Despite projected $454 million budget crunch, Michigan senators push for new offices," WXYZ video, 2/11/15]

Frank Beckmann: "Those senators are again looking for enough support to float $70 million worth of taxpayer backed bonds to purchase a new office building for themselves. The main reason given for seeking the new digs, according to testimony by Senate Secretary Carol Vivendi last year, is so every senator’s office would enjoy a clear view of the state capitol. I’m not making this up." ["Real estate could scuttle Snyder agenda," Detroit News, 2/13/15]  

"Michigan Senate looking to move offices one block" [Detroit Free Press headline, 11/27/14]

Some Lansing lawmakers are trying hard to make a case for a brand new Michigan State Senate office building.  But we think this is a lousy time to make the request!  Those pushing the plan appear to be out of touch with the average state taxpayer.  They have their priorities upside down. Last year, former Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville pushed legislation to sell the Billie Farnum Senate Office Building built in the 1970’s.  The bill passed the Michigan Senate 22 - 14.   Supporters say the current building is outdated, lacks adequate security and doesn’t provide a good view of the capitol.  There’s bi-partisan disagreement on that! Nevertheless, a proposal was chosen to develop a new office building for $51 million.  Seventy million in state bonds is being sought to finance it.  Richardville told Action News investigative reporter Ross Jones, “It was a good business decision.”  Our question: For whom? The State of Michigan is currently facing at least a $325 million budget shortfall.  Some state departments are being consolidated.  In May, state legislative leaders will be asking voters for a 1-cent sales tax increase to raise revenue to fix up our pathetic roads.  Now is the time for Governor Rick Snyder and the Michigan House of Representatives to peel back the onion and ask tough questions of the Senate. Is a new state office building really necessary? Michigan taxpayers deserve open and fiscally responsible government. [WXYZ: Editorial: Bad timing for new MI. Senate office building request! 2/19/15]

Frank Beckmann: "Even if the senators seeking a room with a view are right, the repair costs are less than half what it would cost to buy the new building. So the new purchase remains impossible to justify, given the state’s deficit of nearly a half billion dollars and the upcoming call for taxpayers to dig deeper in their pockets to pay for road repairs at a time when legislators can’t find ways to cut their own spending." ["Real estate could scuttle Snyder agenda," Detroit News, 2/13/15]

The white paper with the lowest batting average is one titled “Create a Culture of Ethics in Michigan's Government.” There he advocated for reporting all financial transactions between lobbyists and public officials, banning all gifts from lobbyists for elected officials and limiting contributions to Political Action Committees (PACs) to $5,000 per year. He accomplished three of the 18 goals he'd laid out in that white paper for a batting average of 17 percent. ["Snyder Has Accomplished 68% Of Campaign Policy Goals," MIRS, 7/18/14]

Michigan gets an "F" on "Corruption Risk Report Card" [MPR, 4/3/12]

Common Cause Michigan on voting and lobbying reforms: “Deja vu? Tonight we heard brief mention of reform in government ethics, pay to play politics, and increased disclosure for lobbying and public contracts. Gov. Snyder called for the same changes that he did in January of 2012 - these fell on deaf ears," said Melanie McElroy, Executive Director. "Snyder also pledged to work with Secretary of State Ruth Johnson on necessary, common sense reforms for our elections in Michigan. Instituting reforms like online voter registration, and in-person, no-reason absentee voting would make elections more fair and accessible for all Michigan voters. Snyder and Johnson owe it to Michigan voters to bring these reforms to fruition in 2013 - and good government groups like Common Cause will be watching.” ["Reaction to Gov. Snyder's State of the State speech: Praise, criticism and a little snark," MLive, 1/16/13]

Regardless, MIRS researched the office setups of all 50 legislatures across the country and hasn't been able to find one where a legislative body shares a building, which isn't wholly owned by the government, with a private firm. ["Senate's Move Could Set Up Rare Building Share With Firm That Lobbies," MIRS, 2/6/15]

Statement from MDP Chair in Response to Gov. Snyder's Proposed Budget
Feb. 11th 2015

LANSING - Today the Michigan Democratic Party released the following statement in response to Gov. Snyder's 2015-16 budget presentation:

"Snyder is once again calling for more sacrifice from middle class families, seniors and kids while corporations and those at the top continue to enjoy tax break after tax break and his political allies get no-bid contracts," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "This Republican approach has kept us lurching from budget crisis to budget crisis. It is long past time we focused our attention on building a state where everyone can stay and succeed by strengthening the middle class and investing in our people."

Memo: Snyder's Record of Attacking Michigan's Most Vulnerable
Jan. 21st 2015

Tonight Gov. Snyder is simply misleading Michigan about his record of attacks on our most vulnerable families and workers.

The truth is, Gov. Snyder has launched constant attacks on struggling Michigan families, attacks that have been labeled ’outrageous,’ ‘a nightmare,’ and ‘a huge failure.’

Just this week, Snyder’s budget office spokesman claimed involving state workers “wouldn’t be a productive way” of solving Snyder’s budget deficit - ignoring the fact that state workers have been proactively proposing solutions to Snyder’s self-inflicted budget and mismanagement issues since he took office in 2011. 

Below are just a few of the specific ways over the last four years that this governor has made it harder for struggling Michiganders to get by.

CLOTHING ALLOWANCE CUT

 

Grand Rapids Press: State's welfare clothing stipend dries up (4/18/11)

Gruis, 34, of Byron Township, finds it hard to believe that allowance could be eliminated as part of a budget approved last week by a House subcommittee. “The people on welfare are already down,” said Gruis, who does much of her family’s clothes shopping at In The Image, a Grand Rapids charity that provides free shoes, clothing and furniture. “By taking that away, you are just putting someone further down. I think it’s a bad idea.” The Department of Human Services budget approved by the House’s DHS Appropriations Subcommittee is about $30 million less than Gov. Rick Snyder recommended. Along with ending the clothing allowance for able welfare recipients, the budget also would reduce temporary disability payments and approve Snyder’s recommendation that welfare recipients able to work be limited to four years of cash assistance. Subcommittee Chairman Dave Agema, R-Grandville, said tough times demand tough choices. “We don’t have the money,” Agema said. “The Democrats don’t come up with any ideas. They just complain. “Come up with a solution. Don’t just keep spending money.” Agema speculated that eliminating the clothing allowance would have minimal effect while saving nearly $10 million a year. “To be honest with you, I think in most cases it doesn’t go to clothes,” he said.

 

Snyder press release: State layoffs avoided as sequestration cuts now set to take effect; Total estimated reductions to programs totals $150.5 million (4/15/13)

The most significant direct impact to clients occurs within the Department of Human Services, where the annual allowance for children's clothing will be eliminated. The clothing allowance of $137 per child is currently provided each August to 21,000 children. The Department of Community Health will implement reductions to programs aimed at serving seniors as well as other grant program areas such as nutrition services and injury and disease prevention.

 

TAX SHIFT

 

HB 4361 (2011): Rick Snyder raised billions of dollars in taxes on:

 

- Working families and individuals -- by stopping the scheduled roll back in Michigan's income tax rate, costing Michigan taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollar a year.

 

- Families with children -- by eliminating the $600 tax deduction for children under the age of 18, costing Michigan taxpayers more than $55 million a year.  Snyder also eliminated the $1,200 credit for adoption.

 

- Families trying to pay for their child's college -- by eliminating the college tuition tax credit. Snyder also eliminated tax credits for donations to Michigan colleges and universities.

 

- Senior citizens -- by taxing pensions and eliminating the $2,300 exemption for those 65 and older, costing Michigan taxpayers several hundred million dollars a year.

 

- Homeowners -- by cutting and eliminating (for higher incomes) the Homestead Property Tax Credit, costing Michigan taxpayers more than $270 million a year.

 

- Unemployed workers -- by eliminating the $2,300 exemption for those collecting UI benefits.

 

- The working poor -- by cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), costing Michigan taxpayers more than $260 million a year. Snyder also eliminated tax credits for donations to homeless shelters and food banks.

 

[Source: "Description of Recently Enacted Personal Income Tax Changes with Taxpayer Examples," House Fiscal Agency, 7/8/11]

 

The Times Herald: Editorial: He speaks of equity, but is it equitable to ask a retiree earning $40,000 a year in pension income to pay $1,700 in taxes to help offset a huge tax break for businesses? Is it fair to take money from the working poor and give it to their bosses? The governor talks of shared sacrifice, a noble sentiment. The problem is that it is unclear what sacrifices the wealthiest among us are being asked to make. ["Equity for one is a travesty for another," The Times Herald editorial, 3/16/11]

 

UI CUTS

 

Snyder Cuts Michigan Unemployment Benefits, Worker's Compensation [Huffington Post (AP), 12/20/11]

 

MLive: Fewer Michiganders received unemployment benefits under scaled-back program, report says

The report, released Wednesday, estimates the changes to Michigan's unemployment insurance program are associated with a loss of benefits for anywhere from 14,578 to 32,754 short-term unemployed workers in an average week, equivalent to a 19 to 35 percent drop in the recipiency rate. Those unemployed workers would have collected an average of $4 million to $9 million in benefits a week, the report found. In 2012 Michigan cut regular unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks, citing an insolvent state unemployment trust fund. The Legislature also passed several other changes that increased requirements for applicants, reduced eligibility for certain types of employment and gave more power to the state to contest claims, according to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project. . . . The cut in state benefits also meant Michiganders qualified for fewer weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits, since those programs were based on the state-provided benefits. The federal programs have since been discontinued. . . . State Senate Democrats, who are outnumbered by Republicans 26-12, recently renewed their efforts to offer jobless Michiganders an extra six weeks of unemployment benefits in light of the expiration of federal extended benefits.

 

Reduction in jobless aid is outrageous [The Times Herald editorial, 4/1/11]

This is so disheartening. Helping the jobless is expensive, of course, but it is neither as costly nor as cruel as sending good families into a nightmare of bankruptcy and despair. Part of the new law recognizes this. It extends jobless benefits for 185,000 Michiganders who otherwise would have lost them by year's end. So what we have in the new law is temporary help for the jobless followed by permanent cuts. Guess which of these aspects the governor emphasized when he announced the new law? A press release distributed by his office carried the headline: "Snyder signs bill to protect unemployed." If you're a Michigan worker, the governor is your friend -- until he isn't.

 

Veto the bill, Mr. Snyder [Huron Daily Tribune editorial, 3/25/11]

Unless Gov. Rick Snyder surprises everyone by vetoing this bill, cutting off unemployment insurance — a benefit workers earn — will force hardworking people to resort to accepting welfare. . . . Michigan residents are hurting enough, and it looks like the government is about to kick more than 10 percent of its residents while they’re already down.

  

WELFARE / FOOD STAMP CUTS

 

Think Progress: Michigan Gov. Snyder Cuts Aid For Low-Income Families After Slashing Taxes On Corporations (8/31/11)

 

Mich House Republicans vote to throw over 200K Michiganders off food assistance (& that’s only part of it)

 

CUTS TO THE BLIND

 

Detroit Free Press: Blind people, advocates demonstrate against Snyder's shake-up in services(3/1/12)

They chanted: “We are the blind, speaking for the blind,” and “Nothing about us without us.” Advocates say Snyder’s ordered shake-up violates federal rules and puts at risk nearly $15 million in federal rehabilitation and training funds. . . . Members of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan and other advocacy groups also object to Snyder’s plan to disband the Michigan Commission for the Blind and replace it with an advisory committee. They say they want a guaranteed voice for blind people in how services are provided, and that’s what the commission provides. They also say they don’t want blind programs administered out of the Department of Human Services, which handles welfare. “We want jobs; not welfare,” the protesters chanted today. “This whole thing was ill-conceived,” said Fred Wurtzel, a spokesman for the federation. “They did not do their homework. There are a number of other items that we believe will unravel fairly soon.”

 

National Federation of the Blind of Michigan Calls for Reversal of Executive Order on Commission for the Blind (2/29/12)

“Given the Governor’s emphasis on open, transparent, and data-driven decisions in state government,we are astonished by the poorly-thought-out executive order and the potential negative consequences it brings to blind people and the citizens of Michigan,” said Larry Posont, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. “Where will the forty blind vendors go for work?” Posont continued. “What will happen to their families? This will force more people into unemployment and on to welfare rather than creating jobs as the agency is designed to do.” “Where will the forty blind vendors go for work?” Posont continued. “What will happen to their families? This will force more people into unemployment and on to welfare rather than creating jobs as the agency is designed to do.”

 

Detroit Free Press: Snyder plan to cut agency for blind people stirs anger (2/28/12)

"We don't want any stinking advisory board," said Fred Wurtzel, past president of the Michigan Federation of the Blind. The state gets better results and more bang for the buck by having "a separate dedicated staff that specializes only in working with blind people," Wurtzel said, adding that he was not speaking on behalf of the federation. Joe Harcz, a member of both the federation and American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, said federal law requires states to hold public hearings before making significant changes in their vocational training plans. But that didn't happen, he said.

 

INFANT MORTALITY CUTS

 

Gov. Rick Snyder's 2014-15 budget cut $6.7 million in state funds for the special disproportionate share program to Hutzel, now a for-profit hospital owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp. Add the federal (tax dollar) matching share of $13.3 million and you have $20 million less to support Hutzel's historic efforts to deliver more than 4,500 high-risk babies each year. Snyder's funding cut is more than ironic because in 2012 he offered a comprehensive plan to reduce the state's higher-than-average infant mortality rate. Michigan's rate is 7.1 per 1,000 live births compared with 6.1 nationally and much higher in the African-American population. ["DMC's Hutzel Women's Hospital could dodge $20M in state cuts – or cut core services," Crain's Detroit Business, 1/26/14]

 

Snyder's stance against funding Hutzel confuses backers [Crain's Detroit Business headline, 3/9/14]

Gov. Rick Snyder wants the state out of the business of subsidizing Hutzel Women's Hospital in Detroit, but that stance is confusing proponents of the funding because the hospital is a leader in the fight to reduce the state's infant mortality rate -- a goal Snyder continues to champion. Snyder did not include $6.7 million in state funding for Hutzel -- typically given in recognition of the hospital's high volume of births and leadership in maternal-fetal medicine -- in the budget he signed into law last year that is in effect through the end of September. Why the shift?

 

But as the Legislature debates a mid-year appropriations bill, the House inexplicably voted to strip funding from the Detroit Medical Center’s Hutzel Women’s Hospital that could have saved some of those babies. Hutzel delivers more than 4,500 at-risk babies every year, more than any other hospital in the state. . . . Hutzel is ground zero in the fight against the city’s infant deaths, and the hospital does not expect demand to decrease any time soon. Gov. Rick Snyder, who has acknowledged the infant mortality crisis in Detroit, believes the state shouldn’t be propping up a private business such as Hutzel. But Michigan appropriated $104 million in 2013 for other private businesses throughout the state, including the movie industry. In a bill that allots more than $200 million to fix roads, $6.7 million seems a small amount, especially considering the additional $13 million it would draw from the federal government. . . . We understand the Legislature is trying to make fiscally conservative decisions, but it should also prioritize spending that saves the lives of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents. ["Save the money for saving babies," Detroit News editorial," 3/9/14]

 

CUTS TO VETERANS

 

Snyder Issues Layoff Notices at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans [Michigan AFSCME Council 25, AFL-CIO press release, 1/24/13]

"Governor Snyder has now moved to resume his program of privatization, and is issuing layoff notices to 138 direct care workers at the GRHV.  These state employees will be replaced by employees of a contractor currently known as J2S Healthforce Group, and will receive about half the wages the state workers have earned, and will receive no benefits," continued Garrett. "What is most amazing is that the Governor shows such lack of concern about the welfare of our nation's heroes; soldiers who were wounded on the battlefield for our freedom," continued Garrett.  "If you look at the allegations made in court about the horrible treatment offered by the employees of J2S in the past, it truly shocks the conscience that anyone – let alone our nation's veterans – should be treated in such a manner: * . . . "It is very clear to me that Governor Snyder is pursuing his own political agenda, without any thought or consideration for us veterans and our families," stated Everett Carr, a disabled veteran residing at GRHV.  "Our veterans have given their all to serve our country, and they deserve respect and the very best care we can provide - not to be auctioned off to the lowest bidder!"

 

Veterans say state's money-saving move has cost them in quality of care [Detroit Free Press, 3/21/13]

The company, which has not returned phone calls from the Free Press, had an ad posted online on Craigslist on Wednesday saying it needs to hire 120 people to fulfill the contract. . . . On Saturday and Sunday, the home was understaffed and Vela wasn't given a chance to go to the restroom, eat breakfast, or take his medications in a timely manner, Rossman said in the letter. The delayed medication meant "my father's life was put in peril," she said.

 

Veterans home residents upset that Michigan budget cuts are targeting their caregivers [Grand Rapids Press, 6/10/11]

The Korean War veteran and three-year resident of the state-owned home is unsettled by a plan to privatize the jobs of 171 resident care aides at the 758-bed retirement and nursing facility. “For the life of me, I can’t see them getting rid of the caretakers they’ve got,” Slocum said. “They know each and every person that’s up there.” Those aides are in line to be the next casualties of Michigan’s budget-cutting ax. . . . Ronnie Skorupski, Local 261 vice president and a caregiver, acknowledges the financial predicament lawmakers had in balancing the budget with declining revenues, but said entrusting veterans’ care to the cheapest bidder misses the point. He also disputes whether the $4.2 million savings will be realized when training, turnover and other costs are factored in. “We take care of our veterans,” Skorupski said. “They know us. We take care of them. We’re family to them and that’s what it’s all about.” . . . Snyder proposed privatization in February when he presented his new budget.

 

DRUG TESTING WELFARE REPICIPENTS

 

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder OKs Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

 

EAA

 

Detroit News: Op-Ed by Gov. Rick Snyder: The EAA is a worthy experiment (3/6/14)

 

Detroit Free Press: Op-Ed by Michigan Parents for Public Schools: EAA is gambling with the future of Michigan's children (12/16/13)

Most of us would give this district an F and prepare to close it down. But if you are Gov. Rick Snyder and State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, you hand over thousands of more students to this experiment in education.

 

Detroit Free Press: Op-ed by superintendant of Clarkston Community Schools: Educational Achievement Authority bad for state - and its kids (4/25/13)

One day, the governor proclaims the virtue of cooperation and legal processes; the next day he rushes through the lame duck legislature right to work bills without committee meetings and creates his own school district. Given that the governor uses the same principles to argue for and against processes and laws depending on his political vantage point, it makes it difficult to trust him. His efforts are relentlessly negative for most of Michigan’s school children and community-governed local school districts.

 

MLive: Op-Ed by Executive Director of Michigan Parents for Schools: EAA a 'huge failure'; proposal sets up better solutions for struggling schools

Snyder's Record Opposing Equality for LGBT Michiganders
Jan. 21st 2015

Tonight, once again Rick Snyder took the side of Bill Schuette and the worst elements of the Republican Party on equality for LGBT Michiganders. Snyder's idea of leadership is simply calling on others to take the lead on an issue, even as he has dodged, declined and dissembled again and again. Snyder should drop the political games and say where he stands on this vital issue: is it fair that LGBT Michiganders can be fired or evicted because of who they are?

The fact is, we've had countless discussions on expanding Elliott-Larsen, and it's clear where the vast majority of Michiganders stand on the issue. It's far past time for more conversations. It's time for action.

Below is background on Snyder's record on equality for LGBT Michiganders.

2010 debate

  • FINLEY: Thank you, Mr. Snyder, same question to you, abortion, gay marriage, affirmative action, they never seem to go away in Michigan.

SNYDER: No. And they're important issues, and they mean a lot to people. What I would say on abortion, I'm pro life, and I have exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. On gay marriage, marriage is between a man and a woman. But people should also have the ability to make contracts between themselves. And then affirmative action, in terms of where that is, is I don't believe in quotas, we shouldn't have quotas. I did support the item of having preferences, but that was decided in our Constitution. Many of these issues were decided over the last few years, and I respect the answers. Because the focus we need to get to in our state is not just social issues, but jobs. I hear from people on social issues, but it keeps on coming back to jobs, jobs, jobs. So let's get the open for business sign up in Michigan, because in fact what you can do as governor is by creating jobs we address many of the social issues. If you're pro-life or pro-choice, one of the best answers we can get is to create jobs, because that helps abortions go down overall. So let's focus on the big issue of jobs.

Opinion

  • Stephen Henderson: In that way, Schuette and Snyder are casting their roles in the same direction as others who have stood in the way of expanding liberty, even after the moral imperatives behind that liberty became painfully clear. It happened with slavery, with women’s suffrage, with the civil rights movement and every other effort to deliver more fully on the inalienable rights everyone is supposed to enjoy. Now it’s happening with gay rights. History? I don’t think it will remember our leaders fondly if they resist moral justice for gay people until the bitter, legal end. [Detroit Free Press: Stephen Henderson: "Schuette should realize the battle to suppress gay rights is over," Stephen Henderson column, 3/24/14"]

The governor and Attorney General Bill Schuette have said they believe it is fiscally prudent not to extend health insurance and other benefits to the partners of gay, lesbian or transgendered state or municipal employees. It’s a novel argument, one Lawson took a dim view of, and sounds more to us like a sop to voters who put prejudice ahead of sound government when they go to the polls. It is, after all, an election year. . . . For the rest of recorded history, men like Orval Faubus and George Wallace will be remembered as bigots for their bitter resistance to segregation during the 1960s. The same, we believe, will hold true for today’s political leaders who stand in the way of the recognition of same-sex unions.

  • A senior executive at Microsoft, which also supports the Washington initiative, defended the company's position by noting that disparate treatment of gays is inconsistent with Microsoft's quest for the best technical talent available. Gov. Rick Snyder often expresses similar aspirations, but he made a mockery of his own words last December when he signed legislation barring medical benefits for the same-sex partners of public employees. He did so despite polling data that show Michigan voters' support for same-sex unions has increased steadily since the state's constitutional prohibition was enacted more than seven years ago. . . . But since the federal courts seem in no hurry to intervene on gay couples' behalf, it will be apparently be up to Michiganders to rescue their own state from its history of homophobic folly. ["Ruling won't erase Michigan's anti-gay folly," Detroit Free Press editorial, 2/9/12]
  • Gov. Rick Snyder should veto the Republican Legislature's mean-spirited attempt to boot domestic partners of public employees out of any health insurance programs they had been participating in. . . . But equally important is the message this Legislature keeps sending: that Michigan is a rigidly intolerant state when it comes to gay and lesbians. . . . And that's why Snyder should put his veto power to use -- to stop this unrelenting effort to close every single gap that might somewhat level the playing field for gays and lesbians. Someone needs to stand up and demonstrate that Michigan welcomes everyone. And who better to do it than the governor, who speaks so often about the need to attract and retain talented workers and entrepreneurs to the state? He shouldn't contradict that message by adding that only heterosexuals are welcome. ["Veto the ban on partner benefits," Detroit Free Press editorial, 12/12/11]
  • Turkey shoot: 3 bills passed last week have earned Gov. Snyder's veto [Detroit Free Press editorial headline, 12/18/11]
    A second, more mean-spirited measure that has earned Snyder's veto would strip domestic partners of public employees of any health insurance coverage they currently receive. Though homophobic backers insist the measure is intended to exalt heterosexual marriage, the ban on partner benefits is nakedly designed to remind gay Michiganders that Republican legislators consider them second-class citizens. Allowing this bigotry to become part of Michigan's express employment policy would put the state's public employers at a competitive disadvantage and mock Gov. Snyder's oft-stated desire to make Michigan a magnet for the nation's most talented, best educated workers. If he sincerely aspires to move Michigan into the first rank of states, he'll waste little time in rejecting this piece of hate legislation, whose enactment would signal a victory for Michigan's most retrograde instincts.

If Snyder wants the "best and the brightest" in Michigan, how can he talk about bringing in foreigners while pulling out a "Do Not Enter" signs for gays and lesbians. . . . And this law would be cruelly canceling benefits that already exist. Real people will be harmed by this. . . . Carol Kennedy has a family history of breast cancer. She’ll need to fork over $5,000 out of pocket for an individual health insurance policy if her partner of 25 years, an Ann Arbor teacher, has her domestic partner benefits yanked. . . . Snyder can hop on gay bashers´ well-worn corkscrew of deception. He can cheapen his message that improving Michigan´s business climate by attracting quality talent is a top priority. Or Snyder can be consistent. He can stand up to the bullies. He can veto HB 4770. He can send a message that scoring cheap political points on an historically oppressed population to the glee of an ever-shrinking pool of small-minded people isn´t on his agenda. If Snyder is a man of his word, he will do just that.

  • Two years ago, shortly after he signed a GOP-sponsored bill barring medical benefits for same-sex partners into law, I asked Snyder face-to-face how he justified his acquiescence to such discriminatory treatment. Snyder evenly replied that he harbored no animus against the state’s gay employees or their families; legislators had told him, he said, that the state simply could not afford to extend coverage to partners who were not legally wed. “I was told it was a matter of economics,” the governor said. His tone was matter-of-fact, even sympathetic. But the import of his words, and his signature, were clear: It is fiscally impractical to treat them the way we treat other people. ["Making Michigan safe for well-mannered discrimination," Brian Dickerson column, Detroit Free Press, 12/15/13]
  • Detroit Free Press: Brian Dickerson: Why Snyder can't tell the truth about same-sex marriage

http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/brian-dickerson/2014/10/15/gay-marriage-michigan-rick-snyder/17271571/

  • Pride Source: Creep of the Week: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

Voting for Snyder is, quite literally, voting against gays and lesbians and their families. Not bothering to vote at all is, too.

http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=68548

  • Ann Arbor Independent: Editorial: In Fighting Same-Sex Marriage, Mich. Gov.’s Actions Evoke George Wallace

http://www.a2indy.com/2014/10/14/editorial-in-fighting-same-sex-marriage-mich-gov-s-actions-evoke-george-wallace/

  • ACLU Blasts Governor Snyder for Signing Domestic Partner Benefits Ban, Vows Legal Challenge
    “The decision to take healthcare benefits away from families just in time for the holidays is mean-spirited and cruel. Governor Snyder had an opportunity to show real leadership and put an end to the political games; instead he approved an extreme policy that sets our state back, jeopardizes our economy and puts our families at risk. The bill serves no other purpose than to single out a small minority of people and deprive them of critical protections as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. We are prepared to challenge this law on behalf of Michigan families in the coming weeks.”
    http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/aclu-blasts-governor-snyder-signing-domestic-partner-benefits-ban-vows-legal-challenge

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s ambivalence on the issue is not only discouraging, but also flies in the face of a majority of Michiganders, who are now in favor of same-sex marriage. . . . The behavior of our elected officials is neither appropriate nor representative of the collective will of Michigan’s citizens. Both Schuette and Snyder need to respect the majority opinion before advancing their own agendas. Snyder’s unwillingness to reconsider his stance on same-sex marriage or call for a legislative step toward to marriage equality is disheartening to the many couples married this weekend and unfair to the people whom he serves. Snyder has claimed that he only has the power to enforce the law, but continually backs legislation that makes its way through Michigan’s legislature. His hypocritical behavior and lack of leadership on this controversial issue during an election year is cowardly.

The time would be right for Snyder to let the issue go. Instead, he decided to fight for an anti-gay policy that thrills Dave Agema. How do I know that? Because the law's primary sponsor was none other than Dave Agema. For this reason alone, you'd think the anti-Agema crowd would make some noises about Snyder's anti-gay play. But no one appears to have made a peep. The truth is that more LGBT people are harmed by Snyder's same-sex benefits ban than by the vile, prejudiced remarks spewing from Agema's mouth. . . . And our supposedly moderate governor is even willing to waste taxpayer dollars defending a law that hurts LGBT families. You may rightly ask why Snyder, a self-proclaimed nerd, would do something so foolhardy. The likely answer is that he cares more about catering to the anti-gay forces, which make up a sizable chunk of the GOP, than doing the right thing. After all, it is an election year.

Snyder's anti-equality agenda

"We’re so very disappointed in the governor," Kary L. Moss, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union's Michigan chapter, said in an interview. "This was the moment for him to show real leadership, to rise above what I believe is petty politics, to tell the rest of the country that Michigan is not living in the dark ages and to create an open, inclusive Michigan."

  • Governor signs ban on partner benefits for unmarried public employees [Pride Source headline, 1/5/12]
    Emily Dievendorf, policy director at Equality Michigan, also slammed the governor for the signing. "Gov. Snyder's support for these bills is appalling. Today, the Governor told unmarried public employees that they could no longer care for their partners or children. He has put hardworking gay and lesbian couples and their children into harm's way by eliminating important health care coverage.

Snyder refuses to be honest about his anti-equality agenda

  • Banning workplace discrimination shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and increasingly in the real world it’s not, but in our legislatures the bigotry and cowardice that stand in the way of righting that wrong have proven difficult to dislodge. . . . It’s ironic, given that the legislation would actually protect jobs, that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder used a similar tack when ducking whether he felt any responsibility to lead on the issue. Michigan is one of 29 states in which it is still legal for an employer to fire an employee for being gay. Snyder told MLive reporters two weeks ago that he’d be “happy to have a discussion on,” but deferred to the Michigan Legislature to raise issue. “At this point in time I’ve got a number of other things that I’ve had as priorities,” he said. Leadership matters, particularly when it comes to defending the civil rights of minority groups. Silence or inaction in the face of such bigotry is little better than complicity. [Stand up for LBGT equality," Battle Creek Enquirer editorial, 11/4/13]
  • If Snyder is serious about his aspirations, he needs to show the same leadership in the realm of same-sex marriage that he has begun to demonstrate in preparing Michigan for the health care needs of the 21st Century. At a minimum, that would mean welcoming a referendum to repeal the mean-spirited constitutional ban Michigan voters adopted in 2004, a law that has secured the state’s reputation for hostility to gay people. Ideally, Snyder would not merely condone such a referendum, but explain the state’s economic self-interest in supporting it. ["The high cost Michigan pays for excluding gay people," Detroit Free Press editorial, 6/30/13]
  • You can come at him every which way from Sunday and if he does not want to answer a question, he will not. Period. This is exceedingly true when it relates to social or wedge issues. . . . Yet on the eve of his reelection bid, his evasive answers are starting to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. Correspondents can now juxtapose what he doesn’t utter against what his potential Democratic opponent Mark Scahuer does say. . . . But here’s the danger with waffling. Your opponent can appear to be more candid than you are and that could cost you votes.  ["Gov. Snyder's unwillingness to take a stand may not serve him well in campaign," Tim Skubick column, MLive, 6/9/13]
  • But Michigan’s top GOP officials have been, if not silent, more obtuse than Agema’s actions merit. . . . Snyder visited the Free Press Friday, and when asked directly about Agema, declined to specify or sharpen his comments, saying they’re directed at anyone who uses divisive, discriminatory language. As rebukes go, it was tame, particularly in response to the kind of vitriol Agema spews. (It’s OK to condemn bigotry in plain language, governor. Try it. You might like it.) . . . But the response, so far, from top GOP officials like Snyder and Schostak seems a bit tepid. And here’s why that’s particularly troubling: Agema isn’t simply voicing an opinion. He’s in a position to craft national policy — as in a resolution reiterating the Republican party’s opposition to gay marriage, adopted last year by the Republican National Committee. ["Dave Agema's actions merit public rebuke from GOP leaders," Nancy Kaffer column, Detroit Free Press, 1/21/14]

Are you ready to expand state civil rights to include gays? Governor: “I haven’t really looked at that in terms of the things we’re working on. I’ve really been focused on more and better jobs?” Follow-up: So this is not on your agenda? With a slight chuckle, the governor, recalling he used answer to describe his earlier non-stance on Right to Work, offers this. “That would be your description. I’m a little more cautious about using that term these days.” And then he chuckles again. The LGBT community is not chuckling.

But in a 2010 debate while he was running for governor, he clearly articulated his opposition to marriage for same-sex couples: “On gay marriage, marriage is between a man and a woman. But people should also have the ability to make contracts between themselves.”

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/michigans-republican-governor-refuses-to-take-position-on-ma 

Civil Rights Protections

  • Banning workplace discrimination shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and increasingly in the real world it’s not, but in our legislatures the bigotry and cowardice that stand in the way of righting that wrong have proven difficult to dislodge. . . . It’s ironic, given that the legislation would actually protect jobs, that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder used a similar tack when ducking whether he felt any responsibility to lead on the issue. Michigan is one of 29 states in which it is still legal for an employer to fire an employee for being gay. Snyder told MLive reporters two weeks ago that he’d be “happy to have a discussion on,” but deferred to the Michigan Legislature to raise issue. “At this point in time I’ve got a number of other things that I’ve had as priorities,” he said. Leadership matters, particularly when it comes to defending the civil rights of minority groups. Silence or inaction in the face of such bigotry is little better than complicity. [Stand up for LBGT equality," Battle Creek Enquirer editorial, 11/4/13]

Are you ready to expand state civil rights to include gays? Governor: “I haven’t really looked at that in terms of the things we’re working on. I’ve really been focused on more and better jobs?” Follow-up: So this is not on your agenda? With a slight chuckle, the governor, recalling he used answer to describe his earlier non-stance on Right to Work, offers this. “That would be your description. I’m a little more cautious about using that term these days.” And then he chuckles again. The LGBT community is not chuckling.

now comes the Lt. Governor who refuses to take a stance on extending civil rights to the gay community. “I’ve not pulled up or studied or looked at the issue yet,” explains Brian Calley “so I don’t have a position for you today.” Expanding the Elliot-Larsen civil rights act to include the LBGT community has been around for years and despite four years in the legislature and three as Lieutenant Governor, he's got nothing. Gov. Rick Snyder reports he has no position either. . . . Enter this debate the state’s GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette. His office was asked what his stance was on this civil rights question? The first email response from his team while he was out of town offered this: “This is an issue for the governor and legislature and I will fulfill my duty to defend and enforce the constitution and our laws.” . . . There is inside word that after the November elections, this measure will pass and they expect the governor’s support at that time. At this time, forget it.

 
Democrats Call on Governor to Cooperate in Building a Strong Middle Class and a Michigan that Works for Everyone
Jan. 20th 2015

Democratic Leaders: Irresponsible Republican policies hurting Michigan families

LANSING - Today Democratic leaders called on Gov. Snyder to take a new direction and work with Democrats to focus on building a stronger middle class, promoting economic mobility and increased wages for Michigan families.

House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D - Auburn Hills) and Senate Democratic Whip Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D - East Lansing) hosted a press conference today where they highlighted several troubling economic indicators that show that Gov. Snyder’s policies aren’t working. Among those are the $324 million budget shortfall, Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing Michigan lagging behind the rest of the country in job creation and unemployment, and a new report from the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy showing Michigan’s tax system ranking 29th worst for fairness.

"Democrats stand ready to work with Gov. Snyder and Legislative Republicans when the focus is on building an economy that works for, not against, working families,” said Rep. Tim Greimel. “But what we will not support is more of the same failed policies that rig the system and force workers and seniors to pay more just so those at the very top can get more breaks. It’s time for Republican leaders to abandon these failed policies that have left Michigan with deficits and lagging behind the rest of the country in economic mobility.”

Democrats pointed out that thanks to Republican policies, the less that families take home from their jobs, the harder they are hit by Michigan’s backwards tax system.

“As the people entrusted to tackle the challenges facing our state, we owe it to working families to be laser focused on the issues that will actually help them provide a better life for their families - not on divisive political issues,” said Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. “The people of Michigan want us to put politics aside and foster an environment that encourages job creation and innovation right here in Michigan - I’m ready to do that, and I hope all my colleagues will join in.”

###

Memo: The Real State of our State
Jan. 20th 2015

Tonight in Gov. Snyder’s 2015 State of the State, he will undoubtedly attempt to rewrite past and present, while ignoring his failures over the last four years.

The reality for too many Michigan families is far different. The failures of this governor’s policies are clear: Michigan’s unemployment and job creation is among the worst in the nation, because of his $1.6 billion tax increase on middle class families and working people. Snyder and Republicans’ massive tax cut for corporations has blown a $324 million hole in the budget, and has done little to create jobs. Meanwhile according to the University of Michigan, the little job growth that has occurred in Michigan is due to a surging auto industry that Snyder and his Republican legislature had nothing to do with rescuing.

Here are a number of facts to set Rick Snyder’s record straight:

Fact #1: Snyder raised taxes by billions of dollars on middle class and working families by:

- eliminating the $600 tax deduction for children under the age of 18, costing Michigan taxpayers more than $55 million a year.  Snyder also eliminated the $1,200 credit for adoption.

- eliminating the college tuition tax credit. Snyder also eliminated tax credits for donations to Michigan colleges and universities.

- taxing pensions and eliminating the $2,300 exemption for those 65 and older, costing Michigan taxpayers several hundred million dollars a year.

- cutting and eliminating (for higher incomes) the Homestead Property Tax Credit, costing Michigan taxpayers more than $270 million a year. - eliminating the $2,300 exemption for those collecting UI benefits.

- cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), costing Michigan taxpayers more than $260 million a year. Snyder also eliminated tax credits for donations to homeless shelters and food banks.

Fact #2: Snyder cut taxes on corporations by $1.8 billion.

Fact #3: That massive tax shift has left Michigan with the 9th worst unemployment rate in the nation. [via the Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Fact #4: Under Gov. Snyder, Michigan ranked 41st in job growth in 2014. [Nonfarm payroll increase year to date, via the Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Fact #5: Under Gov. Snyder, Michigan is facing a $324 million budget deficit.

- Detroit Free Press: Michigan budget picture worsens. "One of Gov. Rick Snyder's first major initiatives was to pledge an end to the issuance of refundable corporate tax credits… But the total value of outstanding corporate tax credits has increased by $1.6 billion since Snyder took office in 2011…”

Fact #6: Under Gov. Snyder, per capita income for Michiganders is down. 

- Don’t take it from us - Snyder’s own “dashboard” gives himself a thumbs down 

Fact #7: Under Gov. Snyder, the number of schools in deficit is higher than ever.

- MLive: Number of school districts with deficits grew in 2013-14, state report shows

- Detroit News: 57 Michigan school districts in deficit, state says

- Detroit Free Press: Report: 55 schools districts, charters operating in deficit

Fact #8: Under Gov. Snyder, families are leaving Michigan.

- MLive: Moving company survey says Michigan still a top ‘outbound’ state

- Don’t just take it from us or Allied Moving Company - Snyder’s own “dashboard” gives himself a thumbs down for negative population change.

Fact #9: Snyder slashed unemployment benefits for jobless Michiganders.

- The cuts were some of the most severe in the country, and were called ‘outrageous,’ ’so disheartening,’ ‘costly’ and ‘cruel’ by the Port Huron Times Herald editorial board.

- More: Veto the bill, Mr. Snyder [Huron Daily Tribune editorial, 3/25/11]

Unless Gov. Rick Snyder surprises everyone by vetoing this bill, cutting off unemployment insurance — a benefit workers earn — will force hardworking people to resort to accepting welfare. . . . Michigan residents are hurting enough, and it looks like the government is about to kick more than 10 percent of its residents while they’re already down.

Fact #10: Snyder cut aid for low-income Michiganders by $60 million. 

- Think Progress: Michigan Gov. Snyder Cuts Aid For Low-Income Families After Slashing Taxes On Corporations(8/31/11)

Fact #11: State’s Economic Progress Thanks to Auto Rescue

- MIRS News, 1/16/2015: “The University of Michigan's Research Seminar on Quantitative Economics (RSQE) today concluded the state's economy has moved from the "improved" to "better" category. 

The state's improving economic fortunes are in large part coming from a dramatic increase in light car and truck manufacturing forecasts for the next two years. RSQE is projecting total auto production to hit 17.1 million units -- a level not seen in 15 years.”

Join us in Northern Michigan!
Jan. 11th 2015

Friend,

We invite you to join us for one of the upcoming events in your area with the Michigan Democratic Party.

These events will be a great opportunity to share your ideas on the issues facing Michigan and to help shape the future of the Democratic Party in our state. As a valuable member of our team, your input is important. We hope you can join us. Details for the events are below:

Monday, January 12

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
Breakfast with Cheboygan Dems
Audies Restaurant
314 S Nicolet Street, Mackinaw City, MI 49701

12:45 AM - 2:00 PM
Lunch with Schoolcraft Dems
The “40” Bar and Grill
100 S 2nd St, Manistique, MI 49854

6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Meet Delta Dems
Bay College
2001 N Lincoln Rd, Escanaba, MI 49829
Heirman Building, Room # 952A

Tuesday, January 13

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM (CST)
Breakfast with Dickinson Dems
The Maple Creek Restaurant
1052 S Stephenson Ave, Iron Mountain, MI 49801

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM (EST)
Lunch with Ontonagon Dems
Twilly's Sports Bar & Grill
13909 U.S. 45, Bruce Crossing, MI 49912

6:00 PM - 7:30 PM (CST)
Meet With Gogebic Dems
Old Suffolk Ale House
125 S. Suffolk St, Ironwood, MI 49938

WednesdayJanuary 14

6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Meet with Houghton Dems
Super 8 Motel
1200 E Lakeshore Dr, Houghton, MI 49931

ThursdayJanuary 15

5:15 PM - 7:00 PM
Meeting with Marquette County Dems
Marquette City Library
230 N Front St, Marquette, MI 49855

Friday, January 16

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Breakfast with Alger Dems
Sydney’s Restaurant
400 Cedar Street, Munising, MI 49862

12:00 PM - 12:45 PM
Meeting with Luce County Dems
Zellers Restaurant
7552 State Highway M123, Newberry, MI 49868

5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Meeting with Chippewa County Dems
Studebakers Restaurant
3583 Interstate 75 Business Spur, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783

If you have any questions regarding these events, please contact us at 517-371-5410 or email us at midemparty@michigandems.com.

Thanks and see you soon!

Lon Johnson
Chair, Michigan Democratic Party

Republican Leadership Must Condemn Agema for White Supremacist Screed
Jan. 7th 2015

LANSING - Today MDP Chair Lon Johnson condemned Michigan's Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema and called on Gov. Snyder, GOP Chair Bobby Schostak, likely next GOP Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and other Republican leaders to force him to resign, in response to a report of Agema posting another bigoted, offensive rant on his Facebook page.

"This racist screed is hateful, unacceptable, and just plain wrong," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "Agema has repeatedly stepped over the line with absurd language against women, African-Americans, Muslims and the LGBT community in Michigan. Republican politicians should know it's their responsibility to stand up for everyone in Michigan. It's long past time for Republicans to stop pandering and finally take a stand against hate."

###

Democrats Renew Call for Independent Audit Into Abuses at Snyder’s Housing Agency
Dec. 18th 2014

Snyder Administration audit provokes more questions, claims internal systems were “moderately effective”

LANSING - Today Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson renewed previous calls for an independent audit into Snyder’s housing agency, MDOT, MDHS, and the Treasury Department, in response to a Snyder Administration audit indicting the directors of those departments for failing to exercise their duties on the MSHDA board.

“It’s troubling that a weeks-long internal audit would barely uncover any details about out of control abuse of public funds on luxury hotels, gourmet food, international flights and limos by Scott Woosley and other unnamed top officials at Snyder’s housing agency,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. “It’s fortunate that the federal government has stepped in and is taking a closer look at the improper and possibly illegal behavior that was rampant at MSHDA. Now it’s time for an independent and broader look into MSHDA and the departments who failed to put a stop to these abuses in the Snyder Administration.”

These abuses were initially uncovered by Michigan Democratic Party FOIA efforts, which led to Scott Woosley’s resignation as MSHDA executive director. No other senior MSHDA staff have resigned or been held accountable for their role in the scandal.

The 26-page audit report documents more than $100,000 in abuses by top MSHDA officials who violated state travel rules and effectively hid the abuses from the Legislature (page 7) and others by failing to report travel activities as required as had been the practice at MSHDA prior to Rick Snyder taking office. 

“Most outrageously, this audit exposed repeated deliberate attempts to violate state travel rules and reimbursement guidelines by Woosley and other unnamed senior staff,” continued Johnson. “As we have repeatedly stated, this demands a probe into possible criminal fraud by senior staff, most of whom are still employed at the housing agency.” 

###

BACKGROUND:

Page 14 of Snyder Administration audit: “We determined that compliance with MSHDA’s approval procedures did not always exist. MSHDA procedures state, “the chairman of MSHDA’s board (Treasury) will approve travel expense vouchers for the Executive Director.” We identified approximately $51,000 of travel related expenses for the executive director that were not approved by Treasury, but were approved either by the executive director, by one of his subordinates, or by someone else other than his supervisor.

Page 15 of Snyder Administration audit: “Numerous reimbursement requests contained errors. Many were likely the result of employees’ lack of understanding of travel regulations. Some errors, however, appeared intentional without regard to the State of Michigan policies/travel regulations e.g., requesting reimbursements in excess of monetary limits.”

A copy of the Snyder Administration's audit of MSHDA spending abuses is available upon request.

Democrats Call on Republicans to Drop Destructive Lame Duck Distractions and Just Fix the Roads
Dec. 12th 2014

LANSING - Today Democrats in the Legislature called on Republicans to use the lame duck session for productive action on roads, not the hundreds of distractions that polluted the December 2012 session and threaten to do the same this month.

In recent days, Republicans have considered or passed legislation that would allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT Michiganders, reclassify burning tires and plastic as “renewable energy,” force the Oakland County Executive election to be moved to midterm years, cut an additional $750 million from K-12 schools, rig the way Michigan's electoral votes are apportioned in presidential elections, and ban communities from protecting paid sick days and living wages at the local level, among many others.

"Cutting $900 million from schools and over $120 million from local communities, passing laws that discriminate against LGBT individuals in our state and rigging elections to favor Republicans is not what the people of Michigan want from their leaders in Lansing," said House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D - Auburn Hills). "They expect solutions to real problems, like fixing our crumbling infrastructure and creating jobs. Republicans should either sit down with Democrats and work out a bipartisan agreement to fix our roads, or adjourn and go home."

"So far in lame duck, Republicans have taken Michigan backwards on 3 Rs: roads, religion and renewables, and offered legislation that will create a toxic environment in Lansing," said Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D - East Lansing). "It’s long past time for Republicans to drop this nonsense, stop the destructive distractions, and work in a bipartisan fashion to fix the roads."

Republican Voter Intimidation Campaign in Full Swing
Nov. 4th 2014

DETROIT - Today the Michigan Democratic Party responded to reports of an out of control Republican campaign to intimidate voters in Pontiac. According to eyewitnesses, Republican poll challengers were actively engaged in disruptive intimidation tactics this morning at the Salvation Army at 469 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. S. in Pontiac: harassing poll workers, challenging legally-cast ballots of voters, and repeatedly being asked to step back by elections workers.

"This behavior by Republicans is outrageous, unethical and possibly illegal, and they should be ashamed," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "Fortunately for voters in Pontiac, Democratic volunteers were able to step in and ensure that their right to vote was not improperly infringed."

These Republicans were repeatedly asking poll workers for ballot numbers and challenging the legally cast ballots of voters in Pontiac. In response to their disruptive efforts, the clerk asked them to leave, then called the police to help resolve the situation. After an official from the Secretary of State's office arrived at the polling location, the Republicans were again asked to keep their distance from the poll workers.

Thanks to the efforts of Democratic volunteers, all legally registered voters were allowed to cast ballots.

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Reminder for Voters, Media on Michigan Voter ID Law
Nov. 4th 2014

DETROIT - Today the Michigan Democratic Party issued the following reminder for voters and media in response to a media error regarding photo ID requirements in Michigan.

"The law clearly states that a lack of photo ID does not prevent voters from legally casting a regular ballot and having their voice heard in Michigan," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "Today, it doesn't matter who you are, how much money you make, or whether you have a photo ID: every registered Michigan voter is equally able to have their voice heard."

Michigan law clearly states if a voter does not have a photo ID or fails to bring photo ID to the polls, the voter can still vote a regular ballot.

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Adam: He Would Knock on 500 Doors
Oct. 25th 2014

The Proclaimers famously sang they would walk 500 miles. Meet Adam Peters, the man who knocks 500 doors – every week.

Adam Knocking DoorsAdam, a Grosse Pointe Park native who is also balancing a class schedule at Macomb Community College, has set that torrid pace interning three days a week out of the Detroit East office on Mack Avenue. Tina Berisha, the field organizer who runs the office, is thrilled to have a dedicated volunteer like Adam.

“We could certainly use more Adams,” Tina said. “We have a great group of interns here, but not many who are as dedicated as him. He’s helped the whole region’s production go way way up.”

Adam is committed to seeing Gary Peters and Mark Schauer get elected, citing the need to keep Democrats in the majority in the Senate and invest in a clean energy economy here in Michigan.

When asked what he would tell other Democrats who agree but have yet to volunteer, he said simply, “If you really want change then you have to do everything you can to work for it.”

Take Adam's advice and join him in working for what you believe

Pam: Working Until Democrats Win
Oct. 23rd 2014

Pam Kellar is the type of person who never stops working until the job is done. She has been volunteering several days each week since the Coordinated Campaign began canvassing and making calls in June. Out of the Sterling Heights office, she enters data and knocks on doors - typically canvassing 50 doors every day despite having to use a walker.

“We cannot sit back and let Republicans take our state in the wrong direction. That is why this election is so important.”

Pam will be working in Oakland County from now through Election Day, and she has one request for Democrats in Michigan:

“Come out and help us. We can’t do it alone.” Take Pam’s advice and spend some time supporting Democrats. Learn more here.

MEMO: Facts About Snyder’s No-Bid Contract to Major Donors
Oct. 21st 2014

To: Interested Parties
From: Joshua Pugh, Michigan Democratic Party Communications Director
RE: Facts About Snyder’s No-Bid Contract to Major Donors
Date: October 21, 2014

News broke yesterday about a series of no-bid contracts awarded by the Snyder administration to J&B Medical Supply, a company owned by Fawzi and Mary Shaya. J&B has received more than $26.4 million in no-bid contracts from the Snyder administration. Snyder administration officials have been spreading misinformation regarding the no-bid contracts; this memo provides factual responses to that misinformation.

Snyder’s Claims vs. The Facts

  • Claim: The Snyder administration’s generous changes to J&B’s contract were due to the Medicaid expansion in Michigan.

Fact: Snyder has awarded $26.4 worth of no-bid contracts to J&B, dating back to February 9, 2013—11 months before the Medicaid expansion was approved in Michigan and more than a year before the expansion went into effect.

The Snyder administration has awarded two no-bid contracts to the Shaya family’s company. J&B’s competitively bid contract was set to expire on July 1, 2013. On February 19, 2013, the Snyder administration awarded a new no-bid contract to J&B running from July 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013 and totaling $8,679,958.02. On November 26, 2013, the Snyder administration awarded another no-bid contract to J&B, this time for one year, totaling $17,359,916.04. On June 10, 2014—the day after the Shaya family hosted a fundraiser for Rick Snyder—J&B’s no-bid contract with the State of Michigan was increased by $390,598.11. 

The federal government did not approve Medicaid expansion in Michigan until eleven months after J&B received its first no-bid contract from the Snyder administration. On December 30, 2013, Michigan obtained approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion. Further, Medicaid expansion in Michigan did not take effect until April 1, 2014—more than a full year after J&B’s first no-bid contract.

  • Claim: The Snyder administration’s no-bid contracts for J&B were just “temporary extensions,” and are “not unprecedented” in state contracts. 

Fact: J&B’s initial contract had two option years that ran through July 2013. Anything beyond that constituted new contracts which required competitive solicitation under Michigan law. It is impossible to “extend” a state contract beyond its initial terms without creating a new contract. J&B’s contract was initially awarded in July 2008, after a competitive bidding process. The contract was for a five-year period—three years, plus an option to extend it for two years to July 2013. That option was exercised and the contract ran until July 1, 2013, at which point the competitively bid contract ended. 

Under Michigan law, the Snyder administration was required to seek competitive solicitation from vendors before awarding any new contracts after July 1, 2013. MCL § 18.1261(3) requires that the State “shall utilize competitive solicitation for all purchases authorized under this act” except in a narrow set circumstances. Under Michigan law, “[u]se of the word ‘shall’ sets forth a mandatory directive.” According to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis, Michigan taxpayers saved $156 million in the first two years that the ban on no-bid contracts went into effect.

  • Claim: The $390,000 increase to J&B’s state contract was in the works weeks before top J&B executives hosted a fundraiser for Rick Snyder. 

Fact: The Snyder administration is ignoring the long, cozy relationship between Rick Snyder and J&B executives.Long before J&B executives hosted a fundraiser for Rick Snyder that raised $73,800 for his re-election efforts, the governor had received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from J&B executives and given them $26.4 million in no-bid contracts.

  • Claim: These allegations are “baseless.” 

Fact: That is the go-to response from Rick Snyder and his allies when confronted about the pattern of scandals within his administration. But the facts show otherwise.In September, the Snyder administration called revelations about improprieties within his housing agency “baseless allegations.” It was reported this week that the Snyder administration is now under federal investigation for those improprieties. Snyder officials now say they “welcome the review.”

In April, the Snyder administration called revelations about the governor’s doubling of his cousin’s state furniture contract “baseless and zero merit.” The Center for Michigan’s Truth Squad evaluated the claims and found there was “no foul on Dems' questioning treatment given to Gov. Snyder’s cousin.” According to the Truth Squad, “George Snyder did his cousin no favors by asking Baird to intervene, and the outcome of his actions certainly raise fair questions about the role family ties played.”

Earlier this year, the Snyder administration called criticisms of the State’s contract with Aramark “baseless allegations that are utterly without merit.” But scandal after scandal regarding Aramark’s contract with the MDOC, including the Snyder administration’s secret canceling of a fine against Aramark, led the Detroit Free Press to call the administration’s dealings with Aramark “rotten” and “disgusting.” 

It isn’t surprising that the Snyder administration is now calling these latest revelations regarding special treatment for a major donor “baseless.” It also isn’t surprising that the facts show otherwise.

New Documents Show That Rick Snyder Hiked $17.4 Million No-Bid State Contract for Big Donor One Day After Hosting Glitzy Fundraiser for Governor’s Campaign
Oct. 20th 2014

LANSING - Today the Michigan Democratic Party released new documents revealing that Governor Rick Snyder increased a campaign contributor’s $17.4 million no-bid state contract by $390,598 one day after the contributor’s family hosted an extravagant fundraiser that brought in $73,800 for the governor’s re-election campaign.

On June 9, 2014, the owners of J&B Medical Supply hosted a fundraiser for Rick Snyder in Bloomfield Hills. The lavish event, attended by about 150 contributors, featured crystal stemware, professional lighting design and custom-made Rick for Michigan candy and water bottles. The family posted a video from the fundraiser, which can be viewed here.

One day after the fundraiser, Governor Snyder increased J&B Medical Supply’s contract with the Department of Community Health (DCH) by $390,598. J&B Medical supplies diapers and other incontinence products to DCH.  Meeting minutes from the Michigan State Administrative Board show that representatives of Governor Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Calley approved the deal, with no explanation given for the massive increase.

The governor’s actions are in apparent violation of provisions of the Michigan Management and Budget Act, passed in 2005, which require competitive bidding on state contracts. The ban on no-bid state contracts saved the state’s taxpayers $156 million the first two years it was in place.

“These documents again raise questions regarding whether ‘pay to play’ is standard operating procedure in Rick Snyder’s administration,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. “The governor needs to come clean and explain why he gave special favors to his campaign donors one day after they hosted a glitzy fundraiser for him. The people of Michigan deserve answers from Governor Snyder.”

J&B Medical Supply Company’s initial contract was awarded through a competitive bid process in 2008 during the administration of Gov. Granholm, ultimately expiring in July 2013. Instead of putting the supply contract out for bid, the Snyder administration twice granted the company two no-bid contracts and each time increased the contract’s value. 

Revelations involving the medical supply vendor’s fundraising for the governor follow earlier disclosures that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation granted a $730,000 no-bid contract benefitting a furniture company owned by the governor’s cousin, George Snyder. That same company saw its $19 million furniture contract with the state protected by top Snyder aide Richard Baird and other officials from budget cuts proposed by the state Senate.  The furniture contract benefiting Snyder’s cousin was subsequently increased to $41 million by the Snyder administration. More than $50,000 was contributed to Rick Snyder’s campaign by employees and family members of the two firms involved in the state furniture contract, DBI Interiors Inc. and Haworth Inc. Baird also played a key role directing the governor’s $1.6 million dark money operations within the NERD fund.  Snyder has refused to disclose which corporations donated to the NERD fund or if any of them are vendors with state contracts. 

“There is a pattern and practice by the Snyder administration of abusing the public trust,” said Johnson. “Time and again we have seen Rick Snyder undermine the integrity of our state government in order to benefit his political friends, his family and himself.  The fact that a day after a state vendor holds a fundraiser for the governor they get a huge no-bid contract increase from the governor is blatantly outrageous and reflects a complete lack of integrity within the Snyder administration.” 

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BACKGROUND:

The Snyder administration has awarded two no-bid contracts to J&B Medical Supply Co., and increased them by more than $26 million in the past two years.

J&B’s contract was initially awarded in July of 2008, after a competitive bidding process. Under the contract, J&B Medical provides a mail-order diaper and incontinence products sales operation in partnership with MDCH. Funding for the service comes from Medicaid, Medicare, and the State of Michigan General Fund.The contract was for a five-year period—three years, plus an option to extend it for two years to July of 2013. That option was exercised, and the contract was funded at the same rate for its final two years, until July 1, 2013.On February 19, 2013, the Snyder administration awarded a new no-bid contract to J&B Medical Supply by purporting to extend the expiration date six months from July 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013 and adding $8,679,958.02 to the contract price. The contract makes no reference to a bid number, and Michigan’s contract bidding database has no records of a competitive bidding process for the new contract.On November 26, 2013, the Snyder administration awarded another no-bid contract to J&B Medical Supply, this time for one year. This new contract extended into December of 2014 and added $17,359,916.04 to the price. Again, neither the contract nor state bidding records indicate that there was any competitive bidding for this new, multi-million dollar contract. Altogether, the Snyder administration has awarded 18 months worth of no-bid contracts to J&B Medical Supply, adding $26.4 million to the contract price.

The Shaya family and their employees at J&B Medical Supply have personally donated more than $65,000.00 to Rick Snyder’s campaign fund.

Since 2010, contributions to Rick Snyder for Michigan by members of the Shaya family as well as employees of J & B Medical have totaled at least $65,676.19.

Steph: Voting Early and Voting for Democrats
Oct. 19th 2014

Steph is a dedicated volunteer in our Pontiac campaign office where she makes calls and knocks on doors every week. She’s going to be out of town on November 4th, so she requested her absentee ballot using miabsentee.com and already received it in the mail.

“It’s so easy to order my absentee ballot now, I’m excited to vote for Democrats now so we win in November.”

Request your absentee ballot in just three steps on miabsentee.com.

Women across Michigan say ‘Enough is Enough’ to GOP Anti-Women Agenda
Oct. 14th 2014

Senator Stabenow, Lt. Gov. candidate Lisa Brown, Senator Whitmer, other women leaders join women across Michigan in speaking out

LANSING - Women from across Michigan are joining together today to say ‘Enough is Enough’ when it comes to Republican policies and actions that offend and economically hurt women and their families.

Michigan women this week are joined by Senator Debbie Stabenow, state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, candidate for Lt. Governor Lisa Brown, and other leading Democrats for news conferences today in Oakland County, Lansing, and Grand Rapids, and tomorrow in Flint, where they unveiled a website and online petition at StandUpforMIWomen.com.

From Terri Lynn Land's opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act, with her comments that women care more about flexibility than pay, to Gov. Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature’s assault on women’s health care and their refusal to support equal pay, to Attorney General Bill Schuette leading the charge to make sure employers have the right to decide birth control coverage for women, it is clear that Republican politicians in Michigan are doing everything they can to take women back to the 1950s. Their offensive ads and comments are so out of touch with the lives of women in Michigan that even Ozzie and Harriet would be embarrassed!

"Today women in Michigan are paid 75 cents for every $1 a man makes. Yet they pay the same price for gas, groceries, and housing,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow. “Equal pay is an economic issue for families and the Republicans just don't get it.”

Meanwhile, Republicans from Gov. Rick Snyder to GOP state lawmakers are blocking equal pay measures, either directly or by their failure to support pending legislation.

“It's clear that Rick Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature don't get that when women succeed, we all succeed,” said Lisa Brown, candidate for Lt. Governor. Michigan women earn just 75 cents for every dollar men earn for the same work. That's just wrong. Michigan's women and their families deserve better."

Brown, a former state lawmaker, noted that Lansing Republicans have kept a pay equity bill on hold since May of 2011, refusing to allow even a hearing on the proposed measure.

Senator Gretchen Whitmer pointed to recordings of Republican lawmakers recently released by the Michigan Democratic Party that show Republican lawmakers are committed to ratcheting up a hard-right extremist political agenda aimed at women.

In the recordings, state Senators Mike Green and Patrick Colbeck are heard voicing strong support for so-called “personhood” legislation for Michigan that was so radical that it was soundly rejected by 58 percent of Mississippi voters in 2011

Legal and medical experts say the legislation would outlaw some of the most common forms of birth control, including the pill.

Whitmer said Republican “rape insurance” legislation passed earlier this year that undermined women’s reproductive health is just the beginning of what Republicans have in mind.  

“Republicans are just getting started with an agenda that would turn back the clock on women’s rights, put government between a woman and her doctor and advance outrageous ideas like banning birth control,” said Whitmer. “Their anti-women agenda is wrong for Michigan, and we are not going to stand by and watch as they try to erase decades of progress in Michigan.”

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MORE: Michigan Women Speak Out On Republican Anti-Women Agenda

Small business owner Dianne Young of Shelby Township on Republican opposition to equal pay for equal work:

“After working at a financial consulting firm for several years I quit after I discovered that my employer was paying men more than I was making and this was for doing the same job as I was doing and we had the same qualifications for the job. I couldn’t afford to stay so I went out and started my own business. It’s just wrong for Republicans to oppose equal pay for equal work.” 

Jill Farber-Bramson of West Bloomfield on Republican support for legislation that would ban birth control:

“The idea of criminalizing the birth control pill is so far out of the mainstream it has no business being considered. It’s time we stand up and fight against this extreme agenda that targets women.”

Allendale waitress Jordan Crandell on Republican opposition to equal pay for equal work:

“Women want the same thing as men do when it comes to wages:  fairness and an equal opportunity to work hard and get ahead. For me this is an economic issue, not a political issue. When you claim ‘flexibility’ is what I want as a woman wage earner, I say to Terry Lynn Land what I want is a fair wage so I can take care of my family."

Grand Rapids attorney Elizabeth Welch Lykins on Republican opposition to equal pay for equal work: 

 “It’s 2014, not 1950. It shouldn’t even be a discussion whether women deserve equal pay for equal work. We work, pay the utility bills, buy groceries and prescription drugs and when women are are paid less, it hurts our family's ability to succeed. If Terri Lynn Land, Rick Snyder and Republicans up and down the ticket don't understand this, then they have no business representing us in office.”

Michigan State University student Marie Rose on Republican support for banning birth control and opposition to equal pay for equal work:

“As a student of social work, I can tell you first-hand how wrong Republican leaders like Terri Lynn Land and Governor Snyder are in opposing tougher equal pay protections for women or advancing policies that would ban birth control. Women need to stand together and say ‘enough is enough’ to this agenda that hurts women and our families.”

General Motors retiree Veronica Johnson of Lansing on Republican opposition to equal pay for equal work:

"I worked on the assembly line at General Motors for 30 years and I worked every bit as hard as my male counterparts. I find it appalling that our Governor and his Republican legislature call equal pay protections for women a 'terrible idea' and won't act of legislation that would help ensure women get equal pay for equal work."

Barbara Jean Young of Flint on Republican rape insurance legislation and restrictions on reproductive health care:

“The rape insurance legislation is terrible enough. But now we learn that Republicans like the Attorney General Bill Schuette are pushing to make it harder for insurance to cover birth control. Instead of targeting women's birth control and health care, shouldn't

Attorney General Bill Schuette be prosecuting criminals? Schuette is not the kind of Attorney General Michigan women need."

Rick Snyder and Terri Lynn Land Bring Jeb Bush, Auto Rescue Opponent to Michigan
Oct. 13th 2014

At last night's gubernatorial debate, Gov. Snyder repeatedly highlighted his out of touch agenda that puts the wealthy and well-connected ahead of seniors and the middle class. Today, Snyder is campaigning with Terri Lynn Land and Jeb Bush, who opposed the auto rescue that saved millions of jobs and brought Michigan’s economy back from the brink of total collapse. 

Bush has said government intervention wasn’t “appropriate." He was also asked directly if he supported the rescue in a congressional hearing and simply said, “No.” 

In spite of opposition from Bush, Land and other Republicans, the auto rescue saved millions of jobs and over $250 billion in personal income.

In fact, Snyder called the auto rescue "overblown," and Republican Senate Candidate Terri Lynn Land stood with Mitt Romney opposing it when it counted.

It comes as little surprise that a Governor who gave $1.8 billion in tax giveaways to corporations and business interests while raising taxes on seniors, and a Republican Senate Candidate who opposes the auto rescue and would have let 4 million jobs disappear, would embrace an opponent of the auto rescue just weeks before Election Day.

Kerry Bentivolio Deserves a Lump of Coal for Wrong Priorities

All Kerry Bentivolio wants for Christmas is…to impeach President Obama?

Publish Date: 
Thursday, August 29, 2013
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