MLive interviewed Governor Snyder and state legislative leaders to learn what they felt were the biggest disappointments of 2015.
Snyder and Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich said that the Flint water tragedy disappointed them. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof referred to the Courser-Gamrat scandal.
House Speaker Kevin Cotter? Well...
The biggest disappointment, I would say overall, has been partisanship on a number of issues. For me, I think this really started, or at least it reared it's head during another disappointing process or development, which was the expulsion hearings (of Courser and Gamrat). That became very partisan. It was a situation where there was unanimous support on the Republican side to expel two of our members, and unfortunately we went until the wee hours of the morning to get the 2/3 votes we needed because there was political gamesmanship going on that then continued into other areas — third-grade reading — it then continued to the bills we just passed (in December) regarding the data centers. It is something that is very prevalent, and it is disappointing. I certainly understand that we're going to have differences on policy, and that is to be expected, but to the extent that it is holding up things. Take the third-grade reading, for example. Take the expulsion vote. That wasn't about the subject matter of the vote, but rather that was how do we clobber each other. In this case, how do we clobber Republicans and try to take back control of the chamber.
Cry me the Grand River, Mr. Speaker. For the last five years, Republicans - including Cotter - have pushed partisan bill after partisan bill after partisan bill. Yet Cotter lacks the guts and sense of responsibility to step up and own the House that he leads. Instead he whines about Democrats - who have fewer seats in the Legislature than at any time in 60 years - for partisan rancor in a state whose government is completely controlled by Cotter's party (and has been for five years now).
But there seems to be a larger strategy at play here.
For the last seven years, while Democrats have been working on common-sense solutions that actually benefit Americans, Republicans have dug in and staked out ideological and partisan positions - doing everything they can to stop our President's agenda.
Now, they are trying to position themselves as the party that will rise up above the partisan rancor for which they're largely responsible.
We saw it with the debate over the highly partisan attempt to gut straight-ticket voting.
We even saw it with Tony Noto's announcement that he will run for State House in the 72nd District (my home district):Lyons: I do not vote straight ticket. I think it’s important to vote for people and not for political party.— Kathy Gray (@michpoligal) December 10, 2015
"I get upset that things have to be one party or the other," Noto said. "Wouldn't you like to have consensus from everybody when you make a decision instead of a complete rebuttal? We have to develop a sense of respect for one another so people aren't bashing."
Now, in fairness to Noto, I do agree with what he said - if a Republican has a good idea, I can support it just as if it came from a Democrat. I also think Noto may be sincere in this belief. But it certainly isn't lost on me that he's far from the first Republican to denounce partisanship at a time when his party has ramped up as partisanship to a fever pitch.