It’s amazing what voters can do in an election year, sometimes without even casting a ballot.
On May 27, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage from the current $7.40 an hour to $9.25 within four years.
The bills cut the legs from under a ballot issue signed by a few hundred thousand state residents, that would have raised the minimum to $10.10 an hour. But the final version was significantly better than other Republican alternatives that would have raised the minimum by paltry amounts.
And last week the Legislature threw a $195 million lifeline to Detroit to help prevent steep cuts in employee pensions and the sale of city-owned art.
The bailout was hailed as a major step toward ending Detroit’s bankruptcy.
More importantly, however, the two moves — a reasonable compromise on the minimum wage and the realization that helping Detroit helps Michigan— are signs that state lawmakers are actually listening to voters and acting accordingly. Unitl November, anyway.
Just about every poll on both issues showed clear voter majorities favoring compromise, despite hard-core opposition within the GOP, which runs Lansing. Republicans have clear majorities in both the House and Senate and Snyder is a Republican.
But other realities intervened. Every seat in both the House and Senate are up for election this year; and Snyder is facing a Democrat who may actually give him a run. ‘
On the minimum wage front, more than 300,000 people signed petitions to put the issue on the November ballot and polls showed at least a 60 percent approval rating to raise the minimum to $10.10 an hour, GOP leadership, no doubt with an eye to the general election, decided a compromise was in order.
For years, polls have shown that solid majorities of state voters want bipartisan action on major issues, not gridlock or one-party rule. Redistricting has provided Republicans with enough safe seats that they can ignore those polls and do what they want. But not every House and Senate seat is safe, and redistricting doesn’t help the governor.