State lawmakers have left Lansing for the summer. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the year, so far, was passing a balanced budget before the summer recess for the seventh year in a row.
But those budget talks were in serious jeopardy because of disagreements among Republicans about overhauling teacher retirement.
That wasn’t the only issue that has fiercely divided Republicans this session. Divisions have also derailed two tax-related measures after a night of political intrigue that would make TV show writers jealous.
Most recently, House GOP leaders indefinitely stalled a package of bills that would give tax breaks to a handful of businesses moving to Michigan. That’s after they found out Gov. Rick Snyder negotiated a deal with Democrats without them knowing.
What is causing such divisions among Republicans in a state where they control every aspect of state government?
Bolger says contrary to how it may look, it was not easy to get things done when he was speaker from 2010 until 2014.
“It was a combination of working within our own caucus,” Bolger says, “understanding what the lay of the land was that we were dealing with in the federal government, and working with our colleagues across the aisle who saw the world very differently as well.”
Kesto says he does not think things in Lansing today are much different from when Bolger was speaker. However, he says things can change in Lansing as the personalities of those elected change.
“But at the end of the day I think what the main focus is,” Kesto says, “is that we need to make Michigan a competitive place where people are coming here.”
Henderson also speaks with two state Capitol reporters about the issue. Rick Pluta is the state Capitol bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and Zach Gorchow is the editor of the Gongwer Capitol newsletter.
Gorchow says a wave of Republicans came to Lansing in 2010, many of whom were very conservative. This meant the party had to smooth over ideological differences to deliver on their campaign promises.
“Republicans took complete control of everything. So to succeed they had to compromise,” says Gorchow.
Because of redistricting and the primary process in Michigan, Gorchow says we’re seeing lawmakers who are increasingly entrenched in their ideologies, making it more difficult to compromise.
Rep. Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) also joins the program to give a Democrat’s perspective on the state of Republican leadership at the state Capitol.
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.