LANSING – As part of his commitment to bring accountability to state government, State RepresentativeCharles Brunner (D-Bay City) introduced a plan to dock state elected officials’ pay if they fail to pass the state budget by July 1.
“Legislators need to remember who they are working for, and they need to be held accountable if they don’t get the job done,” Brunner said. “Dragging out the budget process is a disservice to the people of Michigan, especially to our schools and local governments. As a former teacher and Mayor of Bay City, I have seen the effects of Lansing’s budget gridlock firsthand. Without knowing how much funding they will receive, our schools often have to lay off teachers in the middle of the year, forcing kids into bigger classes. Our communities can’t plan adequately, and it’s our residents who suffer when services have to be cut. Our residents deserve better.”
The fiscal year for local governments and schools – which rely heavily on state funding – generally start on July 1, whereas the state’s budget deadline is Oct. 1. That leaves local governments and schools unable to plan for the year and often forces them to adjust to major cuts in state funding after their fiscal year begins – threatening their ability to serve our residents and educate our children.
The plan that Brunner introduced requires that the state budget be passed by both the state Senate and House of Representatives and signed into law by July 1. Under the plan, legislators would lose a day’s pay for every day that the budget is not presented to the Governor after July 1. Once the budget is presented, the Governor and Lt. Governor would also lose a day’s pay for every day after July 1 that it remains unsigned.
“I hope the political bickering of years past is over and that legislators on both sides of the aisle will work together to get the budget done in a timely manner,” Brunner said. “We have to focus on using taxpayer dollars efficiently on what matters most: helping businesses create jobs, educating our children, keeping our families safe and protecting our natural resources, especially the Saginaw Bay. I’m committed to working with my fellow legislators and the new administration to get the job done – on time.”