By Stateside Staff
It’s been an interesting week in Michigan.
On Wednesday, Michigan’s House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon to resign in the wake of 156 victim impact statements made at Larry Nassar’s sentencing hearing. (Simon resigned on Wednesday night.) Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, additionally called for members of the Board of Trustees to resign.
In other news, Governor Rick Snyder gave his final State of the State address.
Vicki Barnett, former mayor of Farmington Hills and Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and former Republican legislative leader, joined Stateside to talk about this week’s major news stories.
On Governor Snyder’s legacy
Vicki Barnett thinks Governor Snyder glossed over an important portion of his legacy, “which is the Flint [water] crisis.”
Ken Sikkema pointed to the relative passion in the address for “a governor who’s not going to go down in the history books as the best speech deliverer,” he said. “But I thought it was the best speech I’ve ever heard him give, and I think it was because he was very passionate and wanted to talk about the things he’s done and his accomplishments,” Sikkema said.
How will state legislators receive Snyder’s spending proposals?
“They won’t receive it well,” Barnett said. Among Snyder’s proposals are “to increase rural broadband access, to clean up the Michigan toxic waste sites, to increase recycling efforts, to increase the school aid fund allowance, to fight Asian Carp, and to fix our infrastructure,” Barnett said. “I truly don’t know where he’s going to get [the funding] with this legislature.”
Sikkema echoes Barnett’s doubts. “I think we’re at a time of a real policy disconnect here between the governor’s belief about some of the state’s needs and, as you point out, the Republican legislature’s complete obsession with cutting taxes,” he said.
On the Michigan House of Representatives’ response to the Larry Nassar case
Sikkema credits House Speaker Tom Leonard’s, R-DeWitt, resolution calling for President Lou Anna Simon’s resignation as “one of the straws that broke the camel’s back in forcing her decision.” Still, Sikkema said, given the scope of damage, any effort is too late. “We’ve got all these investigations tripping all over themselves at this point in time, and I think we all wished at least one of them was done about five to ten years ago,” Sikkema said.
Barnett echoes that statement. Complaints first came in 1997 and Michigan State University didn’t do anything about it, Barnett said. “Do I think that the Michigan State trustees did not act quick enough? Yes, I do, and I think they’re all culpable,” Barnett said.