MARQUETTE - The $195 million "Grand Bargain" legislation signed last week by Gov. Rick Snyder to help save bankrupt Detroit is not a bailout, according to 109th Dist. Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, who sponsored one of the bills in the package.
"We're not bailing out Detroit," Kivela said. "We're helping the pensioners."
Kivela made those comments during a recent taping of "Media Meet" which will air at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on WNMU Public TV 13 and again at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
The show can also be heard on Public Radio 90 at 7:30 a.m. Sunday and again at 3:30 p.m. Monday.
Kivela said as he began researching the ideas included in what he called the "landmark bi-partisan legislation," he said he began to see it not as a Detroit issue, but as a state issue - and one that has a big effect on his district.
"The 'Big Three' buys a lot of steel from Severstal Steel," Kivela said. "You know where they get their iron ore? Not so far from here, so we are connected to Detroit."
Kivela said the package would help give Detroit pensioners what they had been promised their entire working lives, adding they didn't cause Detroit's massive financial problems and should not be punished for them.
On education, Kivela heralded legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Rick Snyder that eases requirements in the Michigan Merit Curriculum for students looking to take vocational education courses.
It allows for some math and foreign language requirements to be met through materials included in technical and arts classes.
Kivela also said a bump in K-12 education funding of up to $175 per pupil was a step in the right direction, but more needed to be done to a system he said was underfunding Michigan schools.
"Our schools are struggling right now," Kivela said.
He also discussed working with other legislators across the aisle, adding that the U.P. delegation, though it includes both Democrats and Republicans, has a much stronger voice in Lansing when it works together.
"When it comes to the issues that have really affected the U.P. - mining, the propane emergency, frozen water pipes - are frozen water pipes a Democratic issue or is that a Republican issue?" Kivela said. "Propane? Which side of the aisle does that fall? No, it's a U.P. issue."
Road funding, minimum wage, a new Smartzone proposed for the city of Marquette and the implementation in March of a law that requires women to buy a rider on their health insurance for certain medical procedures, including abortion and health care related to miscarriages, were all discussed during the show as well.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.