After the November election, many pundits wrote story after story about the downfalls of divided government. Currently, our national politics is the posterchild of how divided government can go wrong and that gave us little hope here in Michigan about what to expect heading into a divided state government. With the Democratic governor looking to make her mark on Michigan, a savvy Republican Senate, and a strategic Republican House, one is left to believe that there is little room for bipartisanship and that instead we are in for long budget and policy battles.
However, our Michigan leaders have taken a different approach to governing in this environment. They have struck a much-needed tone of bipartisanship, shown a healthy amount of respect for each other’s positions, and displayed a great deal of collegiality. I was encouraged recently at our firm’s budget seminar for clients. The audience was fortunate to receive a budget presentation from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and a question and answer session with Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. After the governor’s presentation, she acknowledged the Republican House and Senate were opposed to key pillars of her budget, but she focused on the theme of cooperation. The governor maintained she will keep an open door and if anyone brings comprehensive solutions to the table addressing Michigan’s problems, such as roads, she is open to receive it. Likewise, Senate Majority Leader Shirkey struck a similar tone. It’s important to note, throughout his question and answer session, he addressed the governor, as “my governor.” This may not seem significant to those outside of government, but this gesture illustrated his respect for Governor Whitmer and his mature approach to divided government.
I understand it is early! However, I feel confident that the leadership we have in place will be an example of how divided government can bring the best out in government. While many decisions will be made by the governor, majority leader, and speaker, we also have an extraordinary legislative Democratic leadership team capable of working across the aisle to find solutions. Therefore, as big issues loom over the legislature, Michiganders should know its leadership wants to change the perception of divided government and deliver solutions.
Michigan Legislative Consultants is a bipartisan lobbying firm based in Lansing, Michigan. Our team of lobbyists and procurement specialists provide a wide range of services for some of the most respected companies in America. For more on MLC, visit www.mlcmi.com or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.