Hey, wait, that’s not fair…. Republicans in the State Senate get almost twice the resources of their Democratic colleagues to serve their constituents

I learned something interesting today from Jeff Irwin, the man that we just elected to represent our district in the Michigan Senate. According to Irwin, who was in Lansing today for orientation, along with all of the other newly-elected State Senators, because he’s in the minority party, he only has $129,700 with which to hire staff, whereas Republican Senators have $212,700. Given this, and the fact that Democratic Senators only have two staff benefit packages to offer employees, whereas their Republican counterparts have four, it means that we, as Michiganders in an historically liberal district, have considerably fewer people working on our behalf at the Capital. And, yes, I know it sounds impossible, but it’s apparently 100% true. I just asked Irwin to send me documentation, and he shared the following, from his orientation packet.

Apparently, according to Irwin, it’s not all that unusual for the majority party to have more in the way of resources, as “they have to chair the committees and set the agendas,” which requires more work. Apparently, however, the difference isn’t usually anywhere near this extreme… When asked how this had been handled in the Michigan House of Representatives, where Irwin served for several years, he said that majority members received 5-10% more in the way of budget, but that every member had the same number of staff members – two.

I’m not sure when this happened in the Michigan Senate, or whether or not our new Democratic leadership might be able to do anything about it, as the Republicans still hold control over the Senate, but I think it’s important for people to know that conservative districts, as things stand today, have almost twice the resources to serve their citizens. And, it’s worth pointing out, this isn’t just about having more people in the office to answer calls from constituents, and help them to navigate State bureaucracy. Fewer staff members also means fewer Democrats drafting legislation to protect our water, safeguard public education, and increase access to health care.

So, the next time you call your Democratic Senator’s office, and don’t receive what you consider to be satisfactory service, don’t just post an angry comment to social media…. call an attorney and file suit against the State, demanding the equal access to resources afforded to you under law.

[Want to know more about Jeff Irwin? Check out the interview I did with him during the Democratic primary, which is full of good stuff.]

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13 Comments

  1. iRobert
    Posted November 10, 2018 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    This sort of distribution of resources and rewards happens in many other aspects of government as well. To the victors go the spoils, as they say.

  2. John Galt
    Posted November 10, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Why do the Dems need staff at all? I think this is overly generous.

  3. iRobert
    Posted November 10, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Republicans see government largely as a reward system for their family, friends and most loyal supporters. The notion that those jobs are there to serve some general purpose of public service is alien to most of them. I’m not kidding.

  4. Jeff Gaynor
    Posted November 10, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Not to mention that Democrats in each house received more votes than did Republicans, though this didn’t translate to more seats in either house.

  5. verifyfirst
    Posted November 10, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Just hire a lawyer and sue the state….just that easy. If you have $400/hour laying around to pay the lawyer. Typical upper middle class white liberal notion of access to justice, to posit that as a solution…..

  6. Posted November 10, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Well, when you put it like that, it sounds kid of obnoxious, doesn’t it? For what it’s worth, I was talking figuratively, trying to get the idea of a lawsuit across without getting into the actual specifics of how such a thing would happen. But, yes, you’re right , if a suit were to happen it likely wouldn’t be a single person retaining a lawyer, etc. More likely, it would be a liberal public-interest group coordinating the whole thing.

  7. Posted November 10, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    If you’re curious as to what the Republican take on this is, I just received the following response to this post on Twitter…. Basically, “Fuck you, losers.”

  8. iRobert
    Posted November 11, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    See what I’m saying, Mark. Republicans really just see public office as a reward for winning. They give out appointments as rewards to their friends and most loyal supporters. They don’t consider that it would be best to hire people based on their dedication to serving the general public. That’s just not how their minds work. Government resources, taxpayer money, and the government positions are the spoils of war, and they are the victors. That’s the full extend of their thinking. This is not a joke.

  9. iRobert
    Posted November 11, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    It’s a shame Jeff Irwin can’t give all his groupies jobs.

  10. Posted November 11, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I understand what you’re saying. It doesn’t make it right, though. Or fair. And the people of Michigan deserve better.

  11. wobblie
    Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Republicans always play hardball, under funding the minority is SOP for them.

    For years I attempted to persuade Democrats that they needed to follow in the footsteps of Adlai Stevenson the First. This Adlai was the grand-father of the Adlai who ran against Eisenhower. Adlai was a good Democrat, and when Grover Cleveland took office in 1885 he appointed Adlai, Post Master General. Adlai immediately fired every local Post Master who had been appointed during the 25 years of Republican administrations. When I worked for Granholm there were still Engler political appointees lingering in her Administration throughout it.

    We have the civil service for a reason, and I’m 100 percent in favor of extending that type of protection to most state workers, but those who are the top administrators need to be beholden to the administration.

  12. Scott Trudeau
    Posted November 12, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    This is par for the course in state legislatures, as far as I know. In my very brief career working on staff in the NY State Senate for the (D) minority leader, there was a similar imbalance in resources within the State Senate (made even worse on the political side where the powerful in the state Democratic party also starved state senate candidates of resources to maintain a politically convenient “balance” in Albany and undermine Democratic control of the Senate; only finally overcome this year!)… This is a transparently unfair, whoever is in power, and deserves scrutiny.

  13. site admin
    Posted November 14, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    The Detroit Metro Times is now on the story.

    https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2018/11/14/michigan-gop-senators-get-far-more-money-and-two-more-aides-than-democrats

    Here’s how their story ends:

    We asked Mark Brewer, an attorney and former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, whether the situation warrants a lawsuit. He said he hasn’t explored the idea, nor has anyone asked him to, but he called the disparity “pure partisan vindictiveness.”

    “It’s an abuse — each of these senators, regardless of party, has the same number of constituents, so there’s no justification other than partisanship for not having equal number of staff,” Brewer says.

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