In Today's E-news
The 2012-2013 Budget
The state budget process has begun. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairman of three Senate Appropriations Subcommittees, I appreciate the opportunity to be directly engaged in the budget discussion. I am committed to keeping the focus on passing a balanced budget that:
Michigan is in a much stronger financial position because of the balanced, reform-minded budget we passed last year. While we will be able to strengthen our commitments in key areas, now is not the time to revert to reckless spending habits, but to remain disciplined and responsible.
I'll work to build upon last year's bold reforms. For example, I've co-sponsored Senate Bill 906 to cut the state income tax rate to 3.9%, a move that will return the rate to where it was in 2007.
Senate passes legislation barring lottery winners from public aid
You wouldn't expect to see a millionaire using a Bridge card for groceries.
Yet you may remember reports last year that a man in my district was still using food stamps, months after winning a $2 million lottery jackpot! And recently, another example surfaced in which a woman who won $1 million continued to collect welfare benefits.
The Senate recently passed legislation to put an end to this nonsense by preventing large lottery winners from receiving public food assistance. Senate Bill 711 requires state officials to share the names of those winning a lottery prize of $1,000 or more with appropriate state agencies. Senate Bill 712, which I sponsored, requires the state to use an asset test when determining eligibility for food assistance. Lottery or gambling winnings count toward the asset total.
Along with making sure food assistance goes to those truly in need, the reforms increase accountability for how tax dollars are spent.
Election reform package strengthens campaign finance laws, cracks down on fraud
As the campaign season kicks off this year, the Senate recently passed a comprehensive package of bills I co-sponsored to hold candidates more accountable under campaign finance laws and to preserve the integrity of elections in Michigan.
The common-sense legislation (Senate Bills 750-754, 803, 823 and 824, House Bills 5085-5086) will:
- Authorize increased fines for improper campaign contributions and expenditures; - Increase civil penalties and add criminal penalties for not filing accurate and timely campaign finance statements;
Voters expect elections to be fair and free of fraud; they deserve transparency and accountability in campaign finances. These bills deliver on these expectations.
Pro-jobs regulatory reform continues
I was pleased to sponsor legislation as part of a package of bills to protect our natural resources and promote job creation at the same time.
Senate Bills 528-533 would reform the state's regulatory process in dealing with leaking underground storage tanks. The bills would eliminate unnecessary red tape to expedite the cleanup of these polluted sites so that they can be redeveloped to create jobs.
Michigan lags far behind other states in cleaning up contaminated land. Over the years, constant rule changes have delayed rehabilitation efforts and sidelined redevelopment projects.
The common sense reform would require the Department of Environmental Quality to set a site-specific, risk-based strategy to more quickly and effectively clean up these sites. In this way, limited resources can be better spent on contaminated sites that need more attention, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach.
Concerned about rising gas prices?
Visit www.michigan.gov/gasprices for suggestions on how to conserve fuel and save money at the pump. Along with driving tips, motorists can:
The site also links to the Pump Guide, a directory of gas stations that pump gasoline at self-service prices for drivers with disabilities.
I am pleased to announce office hours in the district for the month of March. Office hours provide you with the opportunity to meet with me or a member of my staff to discuss your concerns or request assistance with a state agency. No appointment is needed and I hope to see you there!
Friday, March 23, 2012