State legislators in Michigan have the second highest pay in the country. Who’s highest? California, probably the only state with a worse budget problem. So, this is a well-paid gig and the only thing the legislature must do is pass a budget.
Are they any good at the one thing they have to do? Well, actually, no! The Democratic-controlled State House took the summer off in 2009. The fiscal year 2010 budget is still not finalized, with some departments working under so-called continuation budgets. In fact, Michigan experienced a less-publicized, shorter duration government shutdown than 2007. The state shut down for 4 hours in 2007 over budget issues
Ok, so they’re not too good at their one key responsiblity. How about all the other stuff they do? Most might be pretty good, but 7 Michigan legislators missed 100 or more roll calls. I’m not sure about your workplace, but if I missed 15% or more of the time I was supposed to be working, I think I’d be out of a job. Remember, this is the second highest paid state legislature in the country. Never mind all their perqs and benefits.
How’s it all break down? Let’s look at the top guys first. In the Senate, Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) missed not a single roll call. On the other hand, House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford) missed 91 roll call votes, or 13.8%. Not a very impressive record for a Governor-wannabe. Just sayin.
The only 2 in the Senate to miss more than 100 votes were Martha Scott (D) and Valde Garcia (R). Scott missed 141 roll call votes, or 19.7%. Garcia, however, missed an astounding 304 votes, equalling 42.4% of the roll calls. He was missing from nearly half the votes but drew full salary! What’s up with that?
In the Michigan House, every one who missed more than 100 votes was a Democrat. Doug Bennett leads the pack, having missed 311 of 682, or 45.6%, of roll call votes, besting even Garcia’s poor record. Keeping company with him were Mike Simpson, absent from 28.4% of the votes, Judy Nerat who missed 25.2%, George Cushinberry, who didn’t vote in 16.2% of roll calls, and Bettie Scott, who missed 100 roll call votes (14.7%).
With the Mole’s (John Cherry’s) withdrawel from the Governor’s race, there’s been speculation about who might be the next best Democratic candiate. Speaker Dillon’s had a foot in the ring since early fall, making me wonder if he didn’t sell his soul on the budget deal for the gubernatorial campaign. Voters should bear in mind, the so-called leader of the State House was just under my artificial threshold of 100 missed votes. Dillon missed 91 roll calls in the House; that’s 13.3%. What workplace can you think of where missing a day every 2 weeks is acceptable?
Two other potential Democratic contenders, Sen. Hansen Clarke and Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, missed 2.9% and 2% of the roll calls. From eye-balling the statistics, that’s probably within the average. In the interests of fair play, Republican State Sen. Tom George, another guvernatorial hopeful, missed 3.6% of roll call votes.
If 43 Michigan lawmakers can be present for every vote, why can’t they all? Since stuff happens, some will miss some votes, but why did anyone miss more than a percent or two? You had best not re-elect anyone to any office who missed more than 15 roll calls because they’re just stealing time and money from you. We cannot allow these people to continue to subjugate us, fail to represent us, and abdicate the responsibilities of the office we’ve entrusted to them.