Friday, November 20, 2009

News of the Day

Collective Bargaining Works, Firefighters say Dillon Health Care Plan – Prescription for Disaster

Three people who testified Thursday before a House panel considering House Bill 5345, a proposed state-run health plan for all public employees, said that collective bargaining helps save millions in health care costs. They told lawmakers that public employees increasingly share the cost of health care – and they asked lawmakers to continue to allow health insurance decisions to be made at the local level.

“Leave it up to the locals to tailor a plan that best suits our needs,” said Bryan Epling, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local #421, Lansing.

Byrnes laughs off possible run with Dillon - Speculation brews about her future

The chair of the House panel studying HB 5345, Rep. Pam Byrnes (D-Lyndon Township), has been noticeably absent from the Senate race in her home district, a contest many expected the term-limited representative to dominate. This fueled speculation in the Ann Arbor Chronicle that Byrnes was planning to join House Speaker Andy Dillon as running mate in Dillon’s possible run for the governor’s seat. Byrnes told the paper she is amused by the rumor, saying “I think it’s funny. Andy has not said a thing to me. As far as I know, he hasn’t made up his mind about running.”

MSU says it will cover some Promise Grants - Students rally on many campuses to restore scholarships

Michigan State University officials announced that they will use federal stimulus money to help cover some of the Promise Grant cuts to about 8,100 MSU students. The neediest students would get the most money, and a university spokesman stressed this was a one-time aid offer for this year only. Ferris State University made a similar announcement earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jennifer Granholm is making the rounds at rallies on college campuses, calling on student groups to urge their legislators to restore funding for Promise Grants in this year’s budget.

Tax roundtable debates solutions to Michigan’s fiscal crisis - MEA proposal gets wide support

The Center for Michigan brought together a diverse group of business, education and social service interests Tuesday to try to find answers to the state budget crisis. Audience members led the discussion by voting on what our priorities should be. Education was the overwhelming winner.

Perhaps surprisingly, there was room for consensus on the roundtable panel. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce and Business Leaders for Michigan agreed with MEA’s call for a complete evaluation of each tax incentive to make sure it’s producing jobs and helping our economy.

There were other areas of disagreement, including whether to expand the sales tax, institute a graduated income tax, and reduce public employee salaries and benefits, but, overall, panel members said they were optimistic that common ground could be found.