After the victories--what's next?

MEA President Steve Cook weighed in on election victories last week. So it’s no surprise that the opposition has an opinion on Rep. Paul Scott’s recall and the defeat of Ohio’s collective bargaining law.

Gov. Snyder led the Republican Party message on the recall saying that his administration will “forge ahead with our efforts,” and “This was not about Rick Snyder or the Republican agenda.”

When it came to the Ohio vote, he said, “The country needs a mellower, less confrontational approach to fiscal problems on the state and federal level.” He went on to claim that his new Republican administration has been able to avoid the rancor rocking other Republican governors “by steering clear of challenges to collective bargaining agreements with state employees. “I counseled dialogue and negotiations with union leaders,” he said.

Really? Has Gov. Snyder forgotten about Emergency Managers?  And forced health insurance contributions?  And stripping educators of collective bargaining and due process rights?  (For a reminder of what’s been passed, check out MEA’s Bill Tracker.)

Republican legislators must have not heard Snyder’s message because they vow to “double down on their agenda.” They don’t seem to care about really listening to their constituents – or losing their jobs because of it.

It would be no surprise that the so-called education reform bills, the “Right to Work for Less” legislation, and other bills directly attacking public education and unions would move soon. Retribution for union victories is not out of the question.

House Speaker Jase Bolger wasted no time appointing Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) as the interim Chair of the House Education Committee. Considered the most conservative Representative, McMillin echoed his party’s resolve to get things done and deal with the Senate’s so-called reform bills.

Getting things done raises the question whether the Republican-led recalls against six Democrats will have enough signatures by Nov. 28 to put the issue on the February ballot. Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield), Rep. Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe), Rep. Phil Cavanagh (D-Redford Township), Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids), Rep. Dian Slaven (D-Canton Township) and Rep. Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak) have been targeted because “voters are upset with people trying to manipulate Gov. Snyder’s agenda to reinvent Michigan.”

 MEA will be actively protecting the six targeted legislators.

The focus in the 51st District now shifts to finding a nominee to run in a Feb. 28 special election to replace Scott. Local political parties have 15 days after the Genesee County Board of Canvassers certifies the recall election results to nominate a candidate. Candidates will run in the current 51st District to fill Scott’s term, but in Nov. 2012, the lines will shift due to redistricting, dropping some parts of the current district and picking up other communities in Genesee and Oakland Counties.   

Regardless of what happens next, voters will continue to hold lawmakers accountable for assaults on the middle class. Voters have been misled by Republicans and the destructive agenda they have pursued—and will probably continue to pursue. Like the legislators who declare they will be unbowed in their decisions, MEA also remains unbowed in its efforts to make sure voters are heard.