Cynical Synapse

Mon, 29 Jun 2009

Michigan’s Troopergate

Filed under: Economy, Michigan, Politics, Rants, Safety — cynicalsynapse @ 8:48 pm

Michigan State Trooper on a traffic stop

In a sad game of political chicken, Gov. Jennifer Granholm issued an executive order to cut 100 Michigan State Police troopers. Although the State Senate had the opportunity to oppose Granholm’s plans to close a $1.3 billion budget hole, Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) and his ilk sat silent for a month. In mid-June, they were “outraged.” I’m sorry. Where was the outrage when there was a chance of doing anything about this? The troopers’ union was also drawn into the game of chicken, asked to give up furlough days (without pay) to save the 100 jobs. While I, personally, would have voted yes, the union’s perspective:

“Whether 100 troopers are laid off or 1,569 of our members take furlough time, the result is still the same; it’s troopers off the street,” said Mike Moorman, president of the Michigan State Police Troopers Association.

At the end of their shifts today, 100 troopers are turning in badges, identification cards, and weapons as politicians play “Make the Public Pay.” This is the equivalent of Granholm playing the race card and the legislature being too self-important to do the right thing. I proposed Michigan’s legislature accept 10% cuts and eliminate $12,000 annual per diems to offset the State Police layoffs. Granholm put the troopers on the block as a political bargaining chip and the legislature let them run down the gutters like nothing better than chum.

So, penny-wise and dollar foolish, Michigan spent about $8 million for the 2008 State Police academy, which graduated in December. Six months later, we’re laying them all off to save an estimated $1.7 million in salaries and another $3 million in “at post costs”. Personally, I question the “at post” costs since salaries and benefits are usually way more expensive than lockers, a desk, a car, bullets, and fuel. But, accepting the Granholm administration’s figures, it’ll take 2 years to break even in savings on the cost of the Trooper School. In the meantime, Michigan’s citizens suffer the loss of a 10% reduction in protection and those trained police officers are likely to move out of state.

All of this is beyond the fiasco of MSP’s controversial new headquarters. And Michigan’s politicians wonder why the state’s at the bottom of the pile in so many issues? How about this as a prime example of myopic self-centeredness?

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