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State of Michigan

State Jobless Rate Drops

Jan 22, 2014
pjbaldes / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point last month to eight-point-four percent.

Snyder announces plan to shield DIA assets from Detroit bankruptcy

By Rick Pluta

Governor Rick Snyder has proposed committing up to $350 million to help mitigate cuts to Detroit pension benefits – as well as keep assets of the Detroit Institute of Arts off the auction block.

The state’s offer would play out over 20 years and would match money raised from private donations to make sure DIA paintings, sculptures, and other works of art don’t get sold off to pay pension benefits that are central to the bankruptcy negotiations.

Snyder renews call for “civility” in MLK Day address

By Rick Pluta

Governor Rick Snyder used a Martin Luther King Day speech to call for more public civility. His remarks come as a state Republican leader continues to roil his party with comments about gay people and Muslims.

Budget surplus quells fears of cuts to school funding in Michigan

By Jake Neher

A state budget surplus is easing some concerns about funding for public schools in Michigan.

Last year, the non-partisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan warned recent funding increases for schools and early childhood programs might not be sustainable. It estimated they would create a $240 million hole in the state’s School Aid Budget.

Adam Zemke

State Representative Adam Zemke supports tax relief for Michigan residents, but not in the form being discussed in Lansing. 

The 55th district Democrat says he'd rather see the earned income tax credit restored than a cut in the state income tax. Zemke says that would better help Michigan's low-income families displaced by the state's fluctuating economy.

Zemke is also outlining his legislative goals for 2014, and education is at the top of the list.

Zemke says Michigan's most valuable resource is the talent of its residents. He has been calling for an increased focus on STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - in public schools.

House Dems

As Michigan's Republican legislators talk about using  a state budget surplus for an income tax cut, one local State Representative says she doesn't support the idea. 

52nd District Democrat Gretchen Driskell says she does not support a tax cut.  She says she doesn't see any reason to cut taxes at this point.

Driskell says Michigan's system for collecting revenue needs to be fixed before a tax cut in instituted.

SEE ALSO: Bolger, State House GOP Stands Firm Against Repealing Tax on Pensions

She says she thinks the tax cut proposal is more of an election year idea, and the surplus would be better used toward education.

Bolger, state House GOP stand firm against repealing tax on pensions
By Jake Neher

State House Republicans on Thursday formally unveiled their priorities for 2014 - and an election-year tax cut is near the top of the list.

The big question is, who will get that tax cut?

Democrats say it should be retirees. A couple years ago, the state stopped allowing people to exempt pension income from their taxes. Democrats say that policy unfairly burdened retirees and needs to go.

But state House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) says he's not open to that idea.

"If you're going to tax income, all income should be treated the same," Bolger said.

"I would be very resistant to undoing the reform we did last time. That is a reform that makes our tax system more fair."

Many Republicans in Lansing favor reducing the state's income tax rate.

Bolger says improving Michigan's roads and bridges and overhauling the state's controversial auto no-fault law are also among legislative priorities in the new year.

Hunters Miss Target for historic First Wolf Hunt

Dec 31, 2013
michigan wolf hunt
J.A. Vucetich and R.O. Peterson

  Hunters fall far short of killing 43 wolves in historic first hunt

By Jake Neher

The end of 2013 also marks the end of Michigan’s historic and controversial first wolf hunt. The state had allowed 43 wolves to be killed during the 46-day hunt. But hunters only killed a little more than half that amount.

“We didn’t even come close to that, obviously,” said Ed Golder with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “But it’s important to remember that was a ceiling, not a target.”

State Workers Await Board Decision on Benefits

Dec 17, 2013
MPRN

State worker unions rally on eve of contract decision

By Jake Neher

Thousands of state employees could see their health benefits reduced Wednesday. That’s if a state board votes to approve a new contract.

Public employee unions couldn’t reach a contract agreement with the state this year, so the Michigan Civil Service Commission will vote on a compromise plan drawn up by an independent panel. 

Unions say it includes too many concessions while, at the same time, state officials are expecting a budget surplus.

“Caveman Chuck” Coker / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

State House approves a trio of medical marijuana bills

Medical marijuana patients in Michigan would have more ways to legally obtain and consume cannabis under three bills that cleared the state House on Thursday.

House Bill 4271 would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate again in Michigan.

State Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville) introduced the legislation. He says it’s critical for many patients to have safe access to marijuana right away.

Issues Ads Legislation headed for Governor's Desk

Dec 12, 2013

Bill doubling campaign contributions, shielding issue ad donors goes to Gov. Snyder

By Jake Neher

People who pay for so-called “issue ads” would be able to stay anonymous under a bill that has cleared the state Legislature. It would also double the amount of money people can give to campaigns and political action committees (PACs).

The state Senate gave SB661 final legislative approval Thursday.

It would also block Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s proposal that would require issue ads to disclose their donors.

Michigan continues its slow and steady economic recovery. 

The annual economic forecast from University of Michigan economists predicts the next two years should bring the state back to employment levels prior to the economic downturn of 2008-09. 

Don Grimes points to the recovery of the auto industry as a big reason why Michigan's doing as well as it is.

A local pedestrian safety advocate has launched an online petition drive to prompt state lawmakers to pass a Michigan crosswalk law. 

Former Ann Arbor school board member Kathy Griswold says crosswalks in her city lack the proper infrastructure, such as good lighting, to be safe to use.  She points to a new mid-block crossing on Huron east of State as an example where lighting has been an issue.

Griswold says a state crosswalk law would mean standardized, safe pedestrian crossings across Michigan. 

You can find her petition at www.Change.org.

Michigan's Renewable Energy Efforts Paying Off

Oct 24, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

Michigan's investment in renewable energy is paying off, according to a new energy efficiency report from Governor Rick Snyder's office

WEMU's Bob Eccles has more.

An Ann Arbor attorney is suing the state on behalf of seven teenage boys who said they were sexually and physically abused in prison. WEMU's Bob Eccles has more.


The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners last week decided to shelve a proposal to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds. the money generated for the bond sale would have been used to cover the county's long-term pension costs and retiree health care. Commissioners decided to wait until such time the state of Michigan spells out its rules for a bond sale of this kind. Still, the issue is far from dead. As WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports, the Board of Commissioners last night went forward with a public hearing on the issue, gathering more input from the community.

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