COLUMN: Proposition 1 not the answer for Michigan

When voters go to the polls on Tuesday, one of the questions they will face will be how to vote on Proposal 1: Whether or not Michigan should hold a constitutional convention to redraft the Michigan Constitution.

Voters should vote no on Proposal 1 for one simple reason: A constitutional convention is not necessary. Why should the state of Michigan, which is already in a budget crisis, waste money on something that is not needed?

Estimates for the cost for a constitutional convention have ranged from $6 million by the group “Yes on Proposal 1” to $45 million. The $45 million estimate comes from the Senate Fiscal Agency, a non-partisan legislative agency that assists the Michigan Senate in analyzing budget issue, so I tend to put more trust in the $45 million figure.

But even if costs are closer to $6 million, why should Michiganders spend $6 million on something that is unnecessary?

What are the reasons that people want a constitutional convention?

Proponents of the convention have argued that we need to change the budget deadline to prevent budget crises like the state faced in 2007 and 2009. Another argument is that Michigan needs a part-time legislature. Yet another argument is that Michigan could rewrite the constitution to have more transparency in government, by posting expenditures online.

These are not issues that require a redrafting of the entire constitution. A movement has already begun to amend the constitution to change the budget process, and such an amendment could be easily placed on the ballot in a regularly scheduled election.

Movements have also already begun to change the Michigan Legislature to be part time — something that can be passed as a simple single amendment.

Both major-party gubernatorial candidates, Virg Bernero and Rick Snyder, have come out as publicly opposing a convention, because they realize that focusing on redrafting the document would take time away from their plans to fix the state and invest energy into rewriting a document that has a few easily fixable problems in it.

And what happens if the delegates of the convention come up with a document that Michiganders reject? The state will have wasted millions of dollars for nothing.

Proponents of Proposal 1 have failed to show anything wrong with the core of the Michigan Constitution. If voters are unhappy with parts of the constitution, they can advocate for amendments to fix these problems, but a constitutional convention is a waste of time in an attempt to “fix” something that is not broken.


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