1. Part-Time Legislature
Let’s limit legislative sessions to no more than 90 days, which must be served consecutively. In case of an emergency, allow emergency sessions.
2. Cut Pay to Equal Teachers
According to Michigan’s Center for Educational Performance and Information, the average teacher pay in Michigan is $61,875. I propose that we cut legislative pay to equal that of a teacher. So if we require teachers to be in the classroom 180 days a year and pay them 61,875, then we should pay legislators $30,937.50 for their 90 day sessions.
3. Ban Legislative Pensions & Retiree Healthcare
We must also ban taxpayer funded pensions and retirement healthcare for legislators so that they never come back.
4. Stop the Revolving Door to Lobbying
We must end the revolving door from legislator to lobbyist. Those serving in high-level executive positions and legislators should be banned from lobbying for at least 2 years.
5. Transparency in Lawmaking
Every bill and every amendment should be able to be read by every legislator and every interested citizen before voting. I propose that all amendments to bills be placed on the legislature’s public website for at least one day before a vote.
You are entitled to see what is being done in your legislature. The idea that people don’t want to see how the sausage is made is outdated and not conducive to good, transparent government.
6. Expand FOIA
We should require that the governor and the legislature be subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Furthermore, expansion of FOIA should apply equally to the executive and legislative branches.
7. Expose Conflicts
We should require the legislature and top executive officials to disclose their finances – something even members of Congress must do. It is imperative that the public be able to identify potential conflicts of interest and this is a simple and common way to do it.
8. Rules on Political Positions
I am not naïve. I get that sometimes there is a fine line between some of the work done in government and politics. Things like newsletters, town hall meetings and going door-to-door may have some political benefit, but those things also inform voters and put the elected official in front of the people they represent. And if a reporter calls our communications office, it’s impossible to know in advance whether the question will be political or government related. That’s all fine.
But I have noticed something very troubling and it seems to be getting worse. There are more and more political operatives being hired on to government payrolls these days. It seems to happen right out in the open, but since there do not seem to be any clear rules about it, no one says anything. Well, I’m saying something. We need clear rules and guidelines about political consultants working out of government offices doing primarily political operative work.
9. Two-Year Budget Cycle
Two-year cycles force thought, planning and thrift. A two-year cycle with a part-time legislature is virtually guaranteed to save us money and help improve our long-term outlook. During the lost decade, annual budgets accommodated short-term thinking and allowed for too many accounting gimmicks based on fiscal year timing. Adopting a two-year budget is just common sense.
10. We need to Uberize government.
Technology can make us more efficient, relevant and accurate. If we want to compete in the 21st century, we need to act like we know it is already in progress, all around us.