Gov. Snyder signs emergency finanicial manager bill despite protests from students, other citizens
The angry voices of 5,000 protesters did not stop Gov. Rick Snyder from signing emergency financial manager legislation into law.
People rallied at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing Wednesday to protest Snyder’s budget proposal and House Bill 4214, a bill granting increased powers to the position of emergency managers.
“I think this is an abuse of the executive branch,” said Clarkston senior Michael Birach. “No government entity should have this much power.”
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, said they did not start the fight going on in Lansing, but they did not plan on losing.
Whitmer announced a proposed constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining.
“How can you criticize a teacher who makes $40,000 a year,” Whitmer said, “when you have … millionaires in your cabinet?”
The controversial bill signed by Snyder gives him and state financial authorities the right to appoint financial managers to local governments in a state of emergency. The emergency manager would have the power to eliminate contracts, end bargaining agreements and dissolve local governments.
The union-sponsored rally also provided a forum for some to protest what they feared was an attack on the middle class and its democratic rights.
“This isn’t about unions — it’s about all of us,” said Temperance resident Jan Smith.”When you take away people’s voices, that’s not democracy.”
Her biggest concern was the effect the cuts to education spending could have on her grandchildren.
The next generation’s fate was also on the mind of Livonia resident Derek Pennington, a member of an electrician’s union.
“My daughter is going for her teaching degree at CMU and I’m worried for her,” he said. “The most important thing our government can do is invest in education.”
As protesters moved inside the Capitol, signs were prohibited but thousands continued chanting “Who’s house? Our house!”
“So far things have gone smoothly and peacefully,” said Sgt. Jeff Hoeld of the Michigan State Police. “They reserved the space through 5:30 tonight. After that they have to leave.”
Toward the end of the rally five people were arrested for refusing to leave the building after it closed. In total, 10 were arrested for trespassing and one for resisting and obstructing an officer.
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