It’s official: Michigan is a blue state now.
It happened faster than anyone thought possible. This time four years ago, Michigan Republicans held the governorship and both houses of the state legislature. In the Senate, Republicans held a supermajority. On Nov. 8, voters elected Democratic majorities to both the House and Senate, while Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer handily won a second term. Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson were also reelected, while liberals hold a solid majority on the state Supreme Court.
How did Democrats engineer such a massive and sudden turnaround? In large part, it was by convincing voters that they’re far more moderate than they really are.
Whitmer’s campaign strategy was a case in point. She spent the past year boasting that she balanced the budget, didn’t pass tax hikes, and signed over 900 bipartisan bills. At the same time, Democratic candidates for the state legislature didn’t spend much time talking about what they actually wanted to do if they regained power. Voters may be thinking Democrats will take a middle-of-the-road approach, but the bills introduced show they have radical plans for the Great Lakes State.
That was already clear in Whitmer’s real record, which didn’t show up in her campaign ads. Spending-wise, she increased the state budget by a staggering $17.4 billion. In Whitmer’s four years, Michigan is spending far more than it ever did previously. Tax-wise, she pushed for billions of dollars in tax hikes, only for the Republican legislature to block her plans. And far from being a bipartisan leader, she spent four years enacting policies over Republican opposition. She’s only going to double down, and now she has a state legislature to back her wishes.
With the election over, Democratic lawmakers are finally making clear that voters shouldn’t expect centrism. Look no further than State Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, who on election night told Michigan exactly what the future holds: “We got ALL the gavels. Get ready for some cha-cha-cha-changes here in Michigan.” She followed it up with a list of leftist policies that are now on the docket — including blocking school choice, investigating charter schools, and repealing Michigan’s historic right-to-work law.
Repealing right-to-work is a perfect example of why Michigan voters should now be worried. The law, which passed in 2012, gives workers the freedom to decide whether to join a union. It has made the state’s companies more competitive, while making Michigan as a whole a better place to run a business and raise a family. But unions hate the law because it hurts their finances, and now that their allies control Lansing, the unions may get their way.
It’s a similar story with the prevailing wage. This policy, which the legislature repealed in 2018, forces the state to pay union-level wages and pick unionized contractors for state construction projects — everything from roads to schools. Repealing the policy has saved Michigan taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more. But unions hate it, and now their allies are likely to stick it to taxpayers once again.
What other liberal priorities can voters expect? There are almost too many to count.
Expect more expensive energy bills. Gov. Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel may continue their attacks on Line 5, which provides affordable energy to most of the state. The new legislature will be far less likely to hold them back from closing this key source of energy in the coldest months.
Expect more and bigger taxpayer subsidies for unproven environmental projects. Never mind that Republicans and Democrats have a long history of wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on such pork. And never mind that a faster transition to green energy isn’t possible, since solar panels and wind turbines aren’t up to the job. This is a recipe for rolling blackouts.
Expect a slew of regulations. Without the accountability of a Republican legislature, executive agencies will likely roll out red tape like never before — even to the point of regulating how homeowners use water on their own property.
Expect a massive minimum wage hike. Democrats have already introduced a bill to raise the rate to $15 an hour, with further hikes every year after. This will push a lot of businesses to make tough decisions. That means Democrats will push a lot of people out of the workforce, leading to more poverty, not less.
Expect more focus on skin-deep “diversity.” Democrats are backing a bill that would force private companies to say how many women they have on the boards, as well as a bill that would analyze how legislation affects different races. This keeps with Democrats’ desire to put “identity” at the center of everything.
Expect more welfare and less accountability. Democrats have a bill that would end “means testing” for food stamp recipients, making it impossible to ensure that people are actually eligible for the program.
The list goes on. So many once unthinkable policies are now possible, if not probable. A more liberal legislature means fewer checks and balances in Michigan, which could result in one of the most unbalanced and radical agendas our state has ever seen.
James David Dickson is the managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential, a daily news site of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
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