This is worth a sigh of relief following last year's intense budget battle:
The Senate finished a productive week in Lansing, finishing 7 of 8 budget bills. While the spotlight has been on the Mayor of Detroit and the Presidential Campaign, Michigan legislators have been quietly doing our jobs. In March, we moved the budget bills through subcommittees, full Appropriations committees, and finally through the full Senate this week. We reached consensus on most budgets. Even when we did have disagreements, particularly on the K-12 School Aid Budget and the Community Health Budget, we kept the debate on the issues and not on a partisan or personal basis.
We are on target to finish our budget ahead of time this year, well before July 1st. You may recall that we didn’t finish last year until November, and the Government actually shut down for a few hours in October before we could reach any agreements. The constant bickering, the all-night sessions, the dueling press conferences are all so last year.
There is a new spirit of cooperation and mutual respect between the parties and the chambers this year. It’s like when you finally have the big fight in the schoolyard, the antagonists bloody each other up and then become friends.
It is kind of like that in the Michigan Legislature. Once you’ve gone through an ordeal like last year’s battle, you know whom you can trust and you also gain respect and understanding of where colleagues are coming from. Even when you disagree, you find a way to argue without losing your temper. You concentrate reaching a conclusion, not fighting for its own sake.
Sen. Alan Cropsey, who represents Mount Pleasant and other areas, was in my class with Gary Peters last Monday. He agreed that lawmakers will probably be done with the budget around the Fourth of July.