In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
When Is A Pay Cut, Not A Pay Cut?
You gotta hand it to State Senator Roger Kahn. He made a compelling speech on the senate floor the other day about how great he and his colleagues were for sharing in the pain of everyone in Michigan who is battered and bruised by the sick economy. "These are tough times," he waxed on about a resolution to slice legislative salaries by 10%. And in tough times there must be leadership. "Leaders do not eat when those they lead do not eat," he lectured his colleagues adding that leaders don't "sleep" or "joke" either when those they lead don't. It was all very touching except for one thing. All of those senators were still eating, sleeping and joking! Kahn did concede at the beginning of his speech that the salary cut does not affect the current legislature. It will impact the next one in 2011. But he said it only once. So if you missed that tiny little fact and listened to the rest of his rhetoric, you might have assumed the salary slice was hitting everyone today. Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) did make that point after Kahn sat down. "So you still haven't given up a darn thing. There are no profiles in courage here today" she concluded. Now Kahn could be back in 2011 but only then would he start sharing the pain of those back home. And 30 of his colleagues who heard his impassioned speech won't suffer at all. They'll be gone because of term limits. Even though current legislators can't be ordered to take a pay cut by law, they could voluntarily pony up to=2 0the bar and give back some of their pay. But a survey by the Associated Press shows only two are doing that in the senate, out of 38. You don't suppose some lawmakers wanted it both ways? A pat on the head back home for supposedly taking the cut, but pocketing the seven thousand they never gave back?