You may not have noticed, but Michigan’s lawmakers have been on vacation for the last eight weeks. That’s the good news. Unfortunately they’re coming back today, and they didn’t waste a second coming up with new ways to roll back protections on our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
While our legislators were on vacation, unemployment in the state increased to 10.9 percent, reflecting 33,000 jobs lost since June and remaining well above the national rate of 9.1 percent. This comes on the heels of a Republican vote before the summer recess to slash unemployment benefits from 26 to just 20 weeks, making Michigan the first state to do so.
According to Rick Waclawek, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, the state’s unemployment has risen every month since April, when it was 10.2 percent. The legislature should be standing up for the people who are hardest hit by this, as well as adopting policies that will put our state’s unemployed back to work.
When Governor Snyder first heard the unemployment news, he was on a tour of the Upper Peninsula talking about job growth, and responded by saying it gives him one more reason to continue to push his agenda. This includes the GOP’s 83 percent corporate tax cut included in next year’s budget, which was paid for by making deep cuts to our children’s education funding and raising new taxes on seniors and working families. A spokeswoman for the governor even said “we need to continue to be aggressive on all fronts,” as if his approach to running state government had produced good results already.
Now the legislature is back from recess, and today voted on legislation to make unprecedented cuts to safety net programs that will negatively affect 12,000 children in Michigan. If that wasn’t enough, they also voted to demand that employees of local government pay more out-of-pocket for health care. In the face of negative polls, the governor has said that personal meetings with constituents indicate to him that the public is actually supportive of his policies.