As the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines continues, Governor Whitmer announced last week that pandemic restrictions will be lifted based on percentages of Michiganders who have been fully vaccinated. The plan, dubbed “Vacc to Normal,” will gradually eliminate limitations on gatherings, in-person work, mask usage and other restrictions based on milestones of vaccine distribution. This is the first indication that there is hopefully light at the end of the tunnel, though it comes at a time when much of Michigan is experiencing another wave of infection.
The Michigan Legislature is devoting most of its attention to the 2022 budget process, while at the same time preparing to pass supplemental bills for the current year that would appropriate federal COVID-relief funds. Over $1 billion in relief funds passed in Washington last December remain unspent, and that is in addition to the over $5 billion the state received recently as part of the American Rescue Plan federal legislation. Michigan lawmakers find themselves in a strange position of having to distribute huge amounts of one-time federal funds while at the same time having to balance long-term projections for state revenues.
More on these issues below.
Attached you will find the rules, regulations and application for the OPEIU 2021 Student Debt Reduction Program.
All applications must be sent to MAGE and signed by the MAGE Local 2002 President or Secretary/Treasurer before submission to OPEIU. Any application that is incomplete or unsigned will be returned to the Local Union Office for follow up with the member/application. This may cause the application to be delayed or even denied if it is not timely submitted.
More information can be found on the OPEIU Website.
The application deadline is June 30, 2021. Take advantage of these benefits, it really does pay to belong!
Whenever you have the Legislative and Executive Branches of government controlled by different political parties, some acrimony is expected. There is always tension and competition to win not only favored policies, but also to win the public relations battle. However, a solid year of pandemic restrictions have raised the temperature to unprecedented levels in Lansing. The Legislature has already been victorious in one lawsuit against Governor Whitmer, and it is possible that another may be coming soon to a courtroom near you.
As you all know MAGE has been advocating for the restoration of sick leave hours lost due to mandatory quarantine procedures in the DOC. We have taken a number of these to hearings and have notified our MAGE lobbyists to address this issue at the highest levels.
Enclosed in this article are links to the OPEIU Scholarship applications, rules and regulations. Please remember to complete the application fully, then send to the MAGE office so we can verify for OPEIU that your membership is in good standing. Read on for the link to the applications.
The last month has seen a budget agreement reached between Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature, the Michigan Supreme Court ruling that the law upon which the Governor based her emergency powers was unconstitutional, and a frantic effort to reinstate certain Executive Orders that protected things ranging from unemployment benefits to the ability of public bodies to meet remotely. It is a lot to process.
Although the Legislature has a handful of session days scheduled between now and the election, it is widely presumed that little legislating will take place in the days leading up to the election. The “Lame Duck” session, in which many lawmakers who will be leaving office on December 31 still have a chance to make laws, will begin soon after the election and run through mid-December.
More on these issues below.
The Michigan Legislature, after making alterations to the current year budget to close holes created by the global pandemic, is now working to present next year’s budget to Governor Whitmer by the September 30 deadline. The traditional budget process has been almost completely derailed this year as the COVID-19 virus has not only wreaked havoc on the economy, but has also made the normal conduct of legislative business much more difficult. After last year’s debate over road funding that nearly led to a government shutdown, we had hoped for a more orderly process in 2020. Obviously, 2020 had other ideas.
More on the budget process and other issues affecting state workers is below.
The Michigan Legislature worked through the last two weeks in July, and plans to be in session for at least parts of August. They completed work on a deal to balance the current year budget, and are now working toward preparing the FY 20-21 budget. They also passed legislation that would provide immunity from liability for health centers and nursing homes for any negligence related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will likely be working to extend that immunity to all businesses with another round of legislation in August. The Civil Service Commission also adopted a rule with the sole goal of undermining state employee unions. More on these issues below.
The Michigan Legislature has gone into a mini-recess that will last for most of the month of July. Before they left Lansing, they passed a supplemental budget bill that will spend approximately $800 million in federal funds the state received from the CARES Act on a variety of COVID-19 related programs. They did not, however, address the shortfall in the current year budget (although an agreement in principle has been reached on that), nor did they present a budget for FY 21 to the Governor. Those issues will have to be addressed in July, August and perhaps even September.
The results of the 2020 MAGE General Council Elections are in! This year MAGE delegates placed their votes for State Officers, District Directors, District Deputy Directors, and a Resolution that has been proposed to move the MAGE General Council from a biennial meeting to a quadrennial meeting.
After the economic crash of 2008, many retirees who had already performed a lifetime of work and were living on a fixed income experienced a reduction in the amount of their income. During the same 2008 downturn, many companies suffered a loss in revenue. Congress enacted legislation that assisted those companies to the point where many were making record profits before the current COVID-19 crisis. It has now been shown that some of those companies invested the assistance by conducting stock buy-backs. Unfortunately, Congress did not provide such assistance to those retirees or the pension plans where they had placed their life savings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the greatest crisis Michigan has faced in recent memory. The Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference taking place on May 15 is expected to show that Michigan’s revenues are down anywhere from $1 billion to $3 billion in the current fiscal year. Losses from the shutdown of most commercial activity will have a devastating impact on the state’s General Fund and School Aid Fund. It is expected that Governor Whitmer will issue a series of executive order budget cuts in the coming weeks.
While the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order has been extended to May 28, the reduction in the spread of the virus has led for a call to reopen Michigan’s economy. Some sectors, like construction, have already reopened, and some industrial and commercial businesses are expected to be allowed to reopen soon. However, Legislative leaders from the Republican majorities are claiming that the reopening should move faster since the economic impact of the shutdown is proving to be devastating not only on state revenues but also on a huge number of individual Michiganders.
See below for more information on these issues, and more.
It’s National Nurses Week! Nurses dedicate their lives to caring for those who fall ill. Now, more than ever, nurses are needed. They stand on the front lines in these uncertain times putting their own health at risk to help others. This dedication should not go unnoticed. MAGE would like to send a big THANK YOU to all nurses for their continued hard work.
Michigan policy makers are 100% focused on the Coronavirus pandemic, as officials are scrambling to deal with the rapid spread of the disease. Governor Whitmer has issued multiple executive orders ranging from school closures, prohibitions on price gouging, restrictions on public gatherings, and – most recently – a Stay Home, Stay Safe order requiring all Michigan residents to shelter at home unless they are “essential employees” or are obtaining personal needs like food, supplies, medication or medical treatment. The Michigan Legislature responded last week with a $75 million response package aimed at increasing Michigan’s preparedness for the impact of the increasing spread of the illness.
The MAGE General Council is our biennial meeting where members meet to elect officers, get information and vote on policy. If you would like to attend the MAGE General Council on May 16, 2020 at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Mt. Pleasant MI, please contact the MAGE office for reservations at 1-800-477-6243.
We are now halfway through the 2019-2020 Michigan legislative session, and if the first year was anything to go by, year two could be a tumultuous one. Last year began with Governor Whitmer calling for a $.45 per gallon fuel tax increase to fully fund road repair and construction. It ended with a budget standoff, an unprecedented use of the line-item veto pen, and a final compromise budget that restored much if not all of the nearly billion dollars in cuts and transfers made by Governor Whitmer. While there were moments of bipartisan collegiality (e.g. no-fault auto insurance reform), much of the year was marked by fighting words.
We enter 2020 with the relationship between the Governor’s office and the Legislature on shaky ground. This is understandable, since the Legislature is controlled by Republicans and the Governor is a Democrat. It will be interesting to watch as we begin the 2020-2021 budget process in February how the two branches will interact. The Governor will present her State of the State Address on Wednesday January 29, and she will present her 2020-2021 Fiscal Year budget proposal on February 6.
For the last eight years, the Michigan Legislature has been able to finish the upcoming fiscal year budget by June or July. However, for the first time in 8 years we have split partisan power between the Legislature and the Governor. Therefore, House and Senate leaders have decided to hold off before presenting a budget to Governor Whitmer. The deadline for having a budget in place is the beginning of the next fiscal year: October 1, 2019. Because it seems likely that a budgetary showdown will occur between the Legislature and the Governor this year, it is possible that Legislative leaders feel that their hand is strengthened by delaying completion of the budget for as long as possible.
In other news, the debate over the future of the Caro Psychiatric Hospital continues; the Attorney General dismissed legal actions against state employees over the Flint water crisis (although future action is expected); and the Marijuana Regulatory Agency in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is preparing to expand its staff in preparation for implementation of recreational marijuana laws passed on the ballot last November. More on these stories below.
The House and Senate have nearly completed their work on their first drafts of the 2020 state budget. They have both decided to scrap Governor Whitmer’s call to increase the gas tax by $.45 per gallon. Instead, they have attempted to reduce General Fund spending across most departments in order to free up more funds to dedicate to road and bridge repair and maintenance. Governor Whitmer has pledged to veto any budget that fails to provide at least $2 billion in new transportation funding, and it is looking more and more like she will be forced to either make good on that threat or back down.
Also this month, the Legislature passed legislation making sweeping changes to Michigan’s Auto No-Fault Insurance laws, and the House is reviewing changes to state and school employee retirement benefits. More on these issues below.
Congratulations Demetrius Starling! Posted December 17th, 2018
We are proud to report that another MAGE officer has received a Director position in the Department of Health & Human Services. Demetrius has accepted a temporary assignment to Work Out of Class in a Director position overseeing the dual counties of St. Clair and Sanilac.
Demetrius has been serving on the MAGE Board of Directors for many years. “Demetrius has worked tirelessly to assist his fellow MAGE members for many years and he has been a committed, faithful employee of the Department”, said President Quattrin. “It’s always nice to see a sincere, dedicated, conscientious employee get recognized”.
It’s been a tumultuous two months since the Governor and Legislature settled on a 2020 budget about which no one is happy. The past six weeks have provided little clarity on how the Legislature and Governor will work together moving forward. After the Legislature’s presentation of a finalized budget a mere three days before the end of the fiscal year, and the Governor’s unprecedented use of the line-item veto and administrative board powers, trust is presently a rare commodity in Lansing. Governor Whitmer and Legislative leaders have both proposed their own supplemental budgets that would restore the bulk of the nearly $1 billion that was line-item vetoed on September 30, and there is even some overlap in the proposals. However, with over a month gone by to allow dust to settle, the two sides seem no closer to a compromise agreement on restoring the cuts, let alone on a plan for future road funding.
After a hard-fought election, the next governor of Michigan will be Democrat Gretchen Whitmer. While Democrats made gains in both the House and Senate, Republicans kept their majorities in both chambers. The Legislature is returning to Lansing for the “Lame Duck” session that could include several attempts to make more changes to various pension laws. We may also face attacks on public employee collective bargaining rights as the Republican leaders see the next few weeks as their last chance before a new Democratic administration takes over.
“It’s Your Health, Your Families and Your Constituents We’re Fighting to Protect” Washington, D.C. – Nurse members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), AFL-CIO, from around the country descended on Capitol Hill on Friday, May 5, 2017, to meet with their legislators and demand safe nurse to patient ratio legislation aimed at protecting nurses, patients and their families.
Budget Vetoes Roil Lansing
The Legislature and Governor Whitmer managed to complete the 2020 budget process and avoid a government shutdown. That is about the most positive thing that can be said about this year’s appropriations process. At the end of September, the people of Michigan witnessed a budget battle that went down to the very last minute, produced a record number of line-item vetoes, saw the unprecedented use of executive power to shift funds from one line to another, and that left over $500 million in General Fund dollars on the table. It also concluded with no deal on long-term road and infrastructure funding.
The MAGE Compensation Process for the non-exclusively represented employees (NEREs) has culminated with the Civil Service Commission approving a 3% general wage increase, effective October 2017 and no increases in healthcare premiums.
The Michigan House and Senate are returning this week from their summer recess. They have just over a month to reach a budget agreement with Governor Whitmer in order to avoid a government shutdown. The Governor has already announced her desire to have a “Plan B” that would keep the government open even if she and the Legislature cannot reach an agreement on the budget and on road funding by September 30. The next few weeks will tell whether such a plan is needed.
The focus of the Legislature continues to be squarely on the 2020 budget – and just as importantly – whether a significant increase for transportation funding will be included. While the roads are getting 90% of the legislative and media attention, several other questions will also be answered in the next month’s budget debate. These include the future of the Caro Center Psychiatric Hospital, whether the School Aid Fund will continue to be used to pay for higher education, and how deeply some departments may be cut in order to pay to “fix the damn roads.”
More on these issues below.
Please join us in congratulating Parker Millar, winner of the 2019 Romeo Corbeil/Gilles Beauregard Summer Camp Scholarship! Parker is the son of MAGE-OPEIU Local 2002 member, Kelly Millar. This is just one more example of why it pays to belong to MAGE-OPEIU Local 2002!
Don’t forget to turn in your applications for the MAGE Scholarship/Student Debt Reduction! The application period closes 5PM on the last week day of August.
I am disappointed to report that we have received a final ruling from the Supreme Court on our 3% lawsuit. Although MAGE prevailed at the Court of Claims, the State appealed to the Supreme Court. The court concluded that the Civil Service Commission has plenary and absolute authority over the compensation of state employees.
Here we go again, it's the same old story. When the private profiteer take over jobs historically performed by public employees. Bid the contract low, then demand more money....even when they've been doing a deplorable job.
MAGE will be hosting its Annual Meeting on Saturday, May 4, 2019 beginning at 10:00 AM. The meeting will be held at the Comfort Inn, 2424 South Mission Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858.
All MAGE members are welcome to attend at their own expense.
If you will be attending the MAGE Annual Meeting, please RSVP by April 5, 2019 to the MAGE office by calling 517-694-3123 or emailing email@example.com.
The Legislature will return next week from their Spring Recess, and the outlook for next year’s budget discussions is as cloudy as ever. Governor Whitmer’s budget proposal hinges on a $.45 per gallon gas tax increase. While there was little immediate reaction from the Republican-controlled Legislature, their messaging has been slowly coalescing into what could be a complete rejection of that proposal. Without those funds, the Governor’s proposal falls apart. Lansing is eagerly awaiting to see what the Legislature’s alternative might be.
The first month of a new legislative session is coming to a close, and it has been a whirlwind of meeting new legislators, perusing committee assignments, and re-acquainting ourselves with policy makers in new positions. Moreover, the changeover from the Snyder Administration to the Whitmer Administration is moving along slowly but steadily as her cabinet and key staffers have been announced on a piecemeal basis. One of the last department heads to be named was Robert Gordon, the new DHHS Director. Mr. Gordon previously was a member of the Obama Administration where he served as the acting deputy director at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and also as the acting assistant secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education.
The Governor presented her State of the State address on February 12 in which she made several positive remarks about state workers and their value to Michigan. Her budget presentation will take place in early March, and it will be there where she lays out more detailed specifics about her policy goals.
My name is Al Quattrin. I am the President of MAGE (Michigan Association of Governmental Employees). MAGE represents the Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains and Wardens in the MDOC. I spent 32 years in the MDOC. I testified to the Civil Service Commission regarding the Aramark contract and warned of the dire consequences...
At the end of every two year legislative session, there is a period after the election results are tallied, but before the new elected officials are sworn into office. This period is known as the Lame Duck session, since it allows recently defeated or term-limited lawmakers to set policy for approximately six weeks. This year, the election results changed the power structure in Lansing starting January 1, and the individuals currently in office took extraordinary steps to cling to that power.
The sheer volume of legislation passed by the Michigan House and Senate over the past month has dwarfed all recent Lame Duck sessions. In fact, the Legislature passed more bills in the last four weeks of session than they had in the previous two years. The pace was so rapid that the House and Senate often worked well into the early morning hours voting on one bill after another. The Legislature finally adjourned on Friday, December 21 at approximately 8am.
Since then, Governor-elect Whitmer has made an increasing number of announcements about her new cabinet choices. She has also stated her intent to keep the Department of Health and Human Services intact, addressing rumors that she might decide to split it again into two separate departments. More on these issues and others below.
Pictured are 2nd Vice President Wimbush, Commissioners Swanson and Blockett and President Alan Quattrin (L-R)
MAGE members will recall that the state has been at an impasse with the unions and MAGE over pay and demanded insurance concessions for FY 14/15. The State had demanded that all employees be placed into the new State Health Plan which would increase deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance and total out of pocket costs.
The Michigan Legislature is halfway through the 2013-2014 session. On some fronts, issues remain in flux. The recent changes to the Michigan Court of Claims will have an as yet undetermined impact on litigation over payroll deductions for state employees' pensions.