Reaction to MEA president’s ‘sweetheart deal’ with Lansing schools goes from shock to outrage

By Tom Gantert | Feb. 27, 2015 |

State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, was on the Senate floor Thursday when he learned of a “sweetheart” deal between the Lansing School District and the president of the state’s largest teachers union.

The district has for several years allowed Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook to be considered a “school employee.” This lets Cook remain a member of the public school pension system, despite the fact that he actually works full time for a private organization. Moreover, Cook is accruing pension benefits based on his $201,613 union salary, setting him up for a much higher post-retirement payout from the underfunded system. This is commonly known as “pension spiking.”

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Lansing School District keeps Steve Cook in public employee pension system

By Tom Gantert | Feb. 26, 2015 |

MEA President Steve Cook. Image via MEA.org.

Steve Cook, the president of the state’s largest teachers union, is also listed as the highest-paid employee of the Lansing School District. His annual salary is $20,000 more than that of the district’s superintendent.

The deal between the Lansing School District and the Michigan Education Association allows Cook to remain a member of the state’s pension system for school employees while working full-time as president of the private union. This lets him accrue pension benefits based on his $201,613 MEA salary, setting Cook up for a much higher post-retirement payout from the underfunded public school employees pension system.

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Batman v. Superman at Michigan Central train station

 

Warner Bros. “Batman v. Superman” filming at Michigan Central Station in Detroit Sept. 20, 2014. By Emily Lawler | [email protected] on February 25, 2015 at 1:17 PM LANSING, MI — Supporters of Michigan’s $50 million film incentives turned out in full force on Wednesday to oppose a bill that would axe the incentives completely.

HB 4122, introduced by Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway, would require the Michigan Film Office to stop giving out incentives on Oct. 1, 2015, when the state’s fiscal year rolls over.

Unions and supporters of the film industry testified against the bill in the House Tax Policy Committee on Wednesday.

“We took those jobs from Hollywood and brought them here,” said Bill Black, Legislative Liaison for the Teamsters Local 337 in Michigan.

Teamsters members are involved in trucking equipment as well as in roles like selecting places to film scenes.

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Michigan Republicans making new push for prevailing wage repeal in state Legislature

(MLive File Photo | Tanya Moutzalias ) By Jonathan Oosting | [email protected] 

on January 15, 2015 at 11:01 AM, updated January 15, 2015 at 12:35 PM

LANSING, MI — Michigan Republicans are introducing and prioritizing legislation to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law, an effort that could prove divisive as the new Legislature begins the 2015-16 session.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof on Thursday announced plans to sponsor Senate Bill 1, which will seek repeal the 50-year old law that requires union wages and benefits for workers on government-funded construction projects.

“It’s about a savings for taxpayers,” Meekhof, R-West Olive, told MLive on Thursday, confirming that the Senate intends to have a prevailing wage legislation early in the session.

“You’re talking about local governments and school systems that build buildings, and by using prevailing wage, it generally costs them 10 percent more. They could have contracted for the same constructed building, with the same safety and worthiness and all of that, and the taxpayers will pay less for it.”

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Gov. Rick Snyder wants to wean Michigan off coal as an energy source

Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday spoke about replacing coal with a mix of energies including natural gas. (MLive file photo) By Emily Lawler | [email protected] 

on January 15, 2015 at 1:44 PM, updated January 15, 2015 at 1:45 PM

LANSING, MI — Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday at a conference of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum said energy issues were a high priority for him in 2015, and one of the things he’d like to accomplish is reducing the state’s dependence on coal.

“I think there is a large window of opportunity in the state,” Snyder said. “Now is the time to look at a long term transition away from coal.”

The Republican governor suggested that coal be replaced by a variety of cleaner sources, including natural gas. Because of Michigan’s natural gas production and infrastructure, “we’re well positioned to actually have a fair amount of that coal demand go to natural gas,” Snyder said.

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9-7-12_Jennifer_Granholm_Side Yelling

Five Years Later, Granholm’s Green Economic Vision has Failed to Materialize

Former governor said Michigan would be the capital of green energy

By TOM GANTERT | Jan. 12, 2015

According to the press releases issued by the administration of then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm five years ago, Michigan’s economy was undergoing a transformation.

In a June 2010 press release, Granholm declared that the company LG Chem in Holland was making Michigan “a world capital for advanced batteries.”

In October of 2010, she said in a press release about a proposed biogas facility in Reed City that the state was being transformed into “the clean energy capital of North America.”

Five years later, plans for a biogas facility in Reed City died and LG Chem was made to repay $842,000 from a federal stimulus grant after employees from the Holland battery plant were paid to watch movies, play games or volunteer at local non-profits.

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