By Owen Purdue
One of the newest and probably the most uncontroversial proposals to emerge from Mackinac Island Policy Conference was Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley’s announcement of his ballot proposal for a part-time legislature. Touting his experience as a lawmaker and a need to save tax dollars, his proposal would restrict the state legislature from operating for more than 90 days consecutively instead of its current full-time schedule (one of the few in the nation). Furthermore, it would cut legislators’ pay in half — to just over $30,000 a year.
Indeed, while this is only an opening move in Calley’s bid for governor, this proposal doesn’t exactly evoke the high drama of issues like healthcare, guns, teachers, or roads. Still, it’s still a tangible proposal that could have definitive policy consequences for Michigan.
Calley’s arguments in support of his ballot proposal hinge on the anti-establishment sentiments that have swept the nation, painting his movement as one that will allow voters to stick it to the do-nothing, no good Lansing politicians.
With the implementation of term limits and Calley’s proposal further restricting the legislative calendar, they’ll created a “revolving door” of inexperienced elected officials, and shift the real experience in Lansing from elected legislators to staff workers and corporate lobbyists. And it will make it increasingly difficult for legislators to advocate for their constituents and generate policies that are beneficial for Michigan. The quality of work on behalf of Michiganders will not just decline for Republicans or Democrats, but for both parties.
Ultimately, Calley’s proposal could end up drowning out the people’s voices in Michigan’s state capitol, and there’s already enough of that going on.