Mr. McMillin Goes to Lansing
By Isaac MacMillen
Tax-and-Spend liberals—of both parties—have had considerable success in the past decade. Even self-styled “conservatives” have often revealed themselves as porkmongers upon reaching their legislative bodies. Others have simply fallen prey to the mindset prevalent in government—that they can solve problems on their own, if their own constituents would just leave them alone.
That is why it is refreshing to hear of the occasional legislator who stands up for taxpayers in spite of the intense pressure. State Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) is one such example. Elected to the Michigan Legislature last November, he has already proven to be a strong advocate of the state's taxpayers.
McMillin, a former Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and business owner, has co-sponsored a number of bills that would increase the state's efficiency.
• A constitutional amendment tops the list, mandating that the state reduce the pay of legislators who play truant without a valid reason. If passed, the measure would be presented to the people for a vote—and a bit more legislators would likely show up for work.
• There's also a bill that would repeal portions of Michigan tax law. And that one actually looks poised for passage. Current Michigan tax law states that the stategovernment may levy a “surcharge” in order to make up budget deficits. That law would be repealed.
• Another measure amends current state labor law by forbidding enforcement of new “all union” shop agreements in areas designated by popular vote to be “right-to-work” zones. As clearly demonstrated by the UAW's stranglehold over the auto industry, labor unions unchecked can wreak havoc—and this bill impedes their machinations.
Representative McMillin has co-sponsored all of these bills. And they speak volumes as to his priorities. But perhaps the greatest victory for taxpayers comes from the very first bill to which Rep. McMillin is the primary sponsor: HB4121.
This piece of legislation modifies current state law to force state agencies to list, online and in full view of the public, the details of the funding requested from the agency. This information includes the “name and principle location of the entity receiving the funds,” as well as the amount, transaction type, state agency giving the funds, budget source of the funds, and the purpose for the funding—and any other information the department requires. In short, Michiganders will be able to hold their legislature accountable for all of its spending.
Representative McMillin proposed this legislation to enable citizens—and media—to more easily spot corruption in government purchases, contracts, and grants. “Sunshine truly is the best antiseptic,” he stated in introducing the bill.
If this bill passes into law, then, in 2010, state residents will be able to search for and locate information pertaining to all the non-confidential funding requested from Michigan governmental agencies. With the public's eye suddenly upon them, special interest groups will be unable to tap their friends at government agencies when they are in need of funding for their pet projects. Legislators and agency heads will be much less willing to provide funds that are even slightly questionable, knowing that they will resurface on campaign literature, or before legislative committees. And the taxpayers will be able to rest assured that their dollars are being spent wisely.
While too often government officials claim the title “public servant” while lining the pockets of special interests, every so often one arises who truly desires to serve the people he or she represents. Clearly, Representative Tom McMillin is such a legislator. His efforts should be supported by all Michiganders. And his example emulated by his fellow government employees—both in Michigan, and, yes, in Washington, as well.
Isaac MacMillen is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.