House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) talked to the press this afternoon, moments after briefing his Republican caucus on the budget deal reached with himself, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Gov. Rick Snyder on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget and the reforms to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System or MPERS.
Former Board of Education President John Austin isn't running for Governor, but he does have a new political action committee that he hopes will help drive a specific agenda. What is this agenda? Who does he like in the governor's race? What happened in the 2016 election that he believes needs to change in 2018?
The MIRS team talks about how the $500,000 fine will have a lingering impact on the Michigan Democratic Party outside of the financial concerns, which talking points can prevent Republicans from bailing on Enbridge and its Line 5 under the Mackinac Straits and whether the proposed teacher retirement compromise could bring over well more than the legislative votes needed to pass.
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley goes deeper into his part-time legislature idea with MIRS Publisher John Reurink. How much does he think it will cost? Who is making the operational decisions? What role will Calley have in the day-to-day operations? What does his wife, Rep. Julie Calley, think of it all? Calley answers these and other questions.
Also, the MIRS team discusses whether Gov. Rick Snyder is prepared to forego his streak of six budgets finished in June in defense of keeping the teacher pension system open to new hires? Why did Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan make his speech on race at the Detroit Chamber event on Mackinac Island as opposed to the city of Detroit and does Calley embracing a part-time legislature make him the "change" candidate?
Senate Education Committee Chair Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) answers tough questions on his proposal to close the teacher pension retirement system to new hires. Do more Senate Republicans support this plan than the one proposed last December? Why wouldn't offering a more attractive 401(k) option work? Is this Senate Republicans trying to stick it to the teachers?
Also, it's looking increasingly likely Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will not announce a gubernatorial run on May 30. So what could the be announcement be? MIRS kicks around the theory that it is related to Calley's past support for a part-time legislature.
Senate and House Republican leaders want to close off the state's teacher retirement system as a way to save the state money in the future, but Gov. Rick Snyder is not interested in going down that road. Could a proposal by Rep. Scott Van Singel be the compromise that breaks up a legislative log jam while addressing Michigan's soaring unfunded liability costs involving pensions? The Grant Republican talks to MIRS Monday about his idea.
Also, the MIRS team handicaps Lena Epstein's candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The Mark Bernstein for Governor talk is growing louder. And reporter Jack Spencer has a story about Mackinac Island in advance of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce conference that may have you crying "horse pucky."
Why do legislative leaders want to close down the Michigan Public Schools Employees Retirement System, again? James Hohman of the Mackinac Center makes the case for the significant policy change as budget discussions on the issue kick into high gear.
Also, why Geoffrey Fieger claiming he's looking at running for public office shouldn't be considered the Southfield lawyer's biggest political proclamation since losing the 1998 gubernatorial race to then-Gov. John Engler. And former Congressman Mike Rogers. What were the rumors on why he didn't run for Congress in 2014? MIRS' Mike Mallott, then of The Livingston County Press & Argus, looked into Rogers' background at the time. Listen to what he and his staff found.
What is there to like about a "dinosaur" like the state's teacher pension system, the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS)? According to Nick Ciaramitaro of AFSCME, closing the system is more expensive and provides fewer benefits than keeping it. Ciaramitaro, a former state legislator, also updates listeners on the Governor's task force on local government retiree health benefits reform.
In other subjects, when is the Flint water crisis actually over? How will we know? The MIRS team kicks around this subject as well as where gubernatorial candidates are likely to end up on marijuana legalization. This and more in this week's edition.
Do you think Michigan's high auto insurance rates are padding the pockets of insurance companies? Not so, according to Insurance Alliance of Michigan Executive Director Pete Kuhnmuench, who claims auto insurance coverage in Michigan is a money loser. Then why are policies so expensive? Kuhnmuench explains the reasons and gives potential solutions in today's podcast.
Also, could the pending marijuana legalization ballot proposal push the Republican-led legislature to pass its own legalization bill? The MIRS team debates the prospects of this and the flatscreen TV that fell off its conference room wall this week.
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley looks to be well on his way toward a gubernatorial run, and he's already separating himself from Gov. Rick Snyder on one issue -- the state's federally mandated education plan sent to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Calley wants it returned to revisit provisions related to special education. The MIRS team explores this with guest Peter Spadafore of the Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA).
Also, Spadafore talks about Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof's interest in the revisiting old MPSERS debt. He talks off his MASA hat to talk about school bonding proposals and to give listeners a primer on who is running for what in the upcoming Lansing city elections. This and more in this week's edition.
Gov. John Engler drives a spike through any U.S. Senate rumor. The answer is no, he's not interested. "It's a stupid question. You have to ask it, I suppose."
The answers are not as definitive when asked if he would be labeled a conservative in the current economic climate and what his attitude would be on further tax reductions at the state level. Listen to his thoughts on this and more.
Also, how did four Democratic gubernatorial candidates do at Saturday's forum and when does U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) risk losing support for a possible bid by waiting too long to announce? This and much more on this week's edition.