They serve a four-term term if they are in the Senate, and get paid right up through New Year’s Eve the year their terms expire.
So why aren’t they supposed to keep working till then -- especially when there is urgent business to take care of?
You would think they owed it to the taxpayers. Well, the legislators evidently don’t think that. They are reluctantly meeting in what is called a “lame-duck session” right now. They plan to work through this Thursday, and then knock off for the rest of the year.
That means that they are essentially planning on taking all of December as paid vacation. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Every one of our one hundred and forty-eight lawmakers is being paid more than six thousand, six hundred dollars a month.
Don’t you think they should earn it? Other state employees have to stay on the job. At Wayne State University where I teach, we are giving finals and working almost up to Christmas.
But not our lawmakers. Now, maybe their knocking off early would be justified if the budget was balanced, we had full employment, and no major problems. But there is lots of unfinished business in Lansing. Leaving it for the next legislature makes no sense. They’d have to start from scratch.
Thanks to our bizarre system of term limits, most of the lawmakers who take over a month from now will be new. They won’t even know where the coatrooms are, let alone the complexities of legislation that urgently needs to be decided upon.
So our lawmakers, and our governor, need to continue to work now, even if it inconveniences their vacation schedule slightly.
Here are a few of the really important issues: First, the proposed new Detroit River International Crossing bridge.
This is supported by nearly every corporate, civic and political leader in Michigan, with two exceptions. Matty Moroun, who owns the competing Ambassador Bridge, and the politicians to whom he has given money. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop has broken his promise to hold a vote on the bridge.
Senator Ray Basham, who supports it, is going to make a long-shot attempt to get his fellow senators to hold a vote anyway.
There are many other issues too. The Pure Michigan ad campaign, which has been demonstrated to be extremely cost-effective in terms of bringing tourism dollars into the state.
Right now, it isn’t being funded, even though both the present and the incoming governor support it.
There‘s also a sensible plan to spur economic development around Metropolitan and Willow Run airports. The House needs to take up a bill the Senate passed which would allow the citizens of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to decide whether to tax themselves to support the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Zoo.
Other issues are also pending which deserve action by the people elected to make such decisions. Even if that means they’d have to work for their pay for a few days longer.