Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Closings and Delays
Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: Taxes, Spending, Regulation And The "Silent Campaign"

State Capitol - file photo
Melissa Benmark

The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Capitol Bureau Chief Rick Pluta says the current debate among Republicans in the Legislature boils down to “Which services are going to get cut? By how much? In order to do what?”

Governor Snyder’s proposed budget is being cut in the both the House and Senate, but Pluta says lawmakers making the reductions have different priorities. State House Republicans want enough money to once again propose an income tax cut that could not get enough votes to pass earlier this year. Pluta says in the Senate there are ideas on infrastructure spending, paying down debt and some sort of tax relief. The consensus revenue estimating conference next month will show how much money the state expects to take in, and could help determine which proposals take priority.

Pluta says he expects resolution fairly quickly, in part because Republicans are proud of getting the state budget done in early June during Snyder’s time in office. While the State fiscal year begins October 1st, schools, universities and local governments generally begin their fiscal year July 1st. Finishing the budget early has made it easier to plan. Pluta says Republicans won’t jeopardize getting the budget completed in the summer over an argument over cutting taxes or where to spend additional money.

Lead Rules

Following the Flint water crisis, Governor Snyder has called for Michigan to have the toughest standards on lead in the nation. That would mean the state guidelines would be stricter than the federal government’s. However, Pluta says Republicans in the Legislature have a philosophical objection to that. They want the state rules to be no stricter than federal ones. Snyder is looking at executive action in the meantime, while the Legislature is waiting to see what happens at federal level.

Campaign for Governor

With Snyder term-limited from running for re-election, candidates are jockeying for position to run for governor next year. Pluta describes this as “the silent campaign” where prospective candidates meet with strategists, opinion leaders and donors to set up the beginning of the campaign. But the “silent campaign” got a little louder recently. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley has been at many public events, and Snyder is doing a lot to put Calley in the spotlight. Attorney General Bill Schuette is also expected to seek the Republican nomination.

Both men were recently at a reception to honor the 100th anniversary of the Michigan State Police. During that ceremony, Schuette mentioned the Attorney General who helped formed the State Police, Alfred Groesbeck. He would go on to be elected governor in 1920. Pluta says Frank Kelley’s long tenure as Attorney General meant the office wasn’t considered a pathway to the governor’s office for a long time. But Jennifer Granholm was elected governor after a term as Attorney General, Mike Cox ran for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010.

However, Pluta says moving from lieutenant governor to governor has been more difficult. William Milliken became governor when George Romney took a position in Richard Nixon’s administration. Milliken went on to serve nearly 14 years. John Cherry abandoned a run for governor in 2010 when Granholm was term-limited. John Engler’s Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus was the Republican nominee in 2002, but lost to Granholm.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
Related Content