These days the news cycle is compressed and chaotic. About the time I think it's safe to look at something longer than 5 minutes, something else blows up. Rest assured, it's all intentional.
Just for the heck of it, I decided to look at the top news in six key states: Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Florida, Wisconsin and Arizona. Here are some samples of the headlines:
- Michigan - Emergency manager bill headed to Michigan governor
LANSING, Mich. Emergency financial managers appointed by the state to run struggling cities and schools would have broad new powers under legislation approved by the Michigan House.
The main bill in the package was approved Tuesday by a 62-48 vote in the Republican-led chamber. The Senate has passed the bill, which now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature.
Managers who are appointed would have the power to terminate union contracts held by school teachers and local government employees. Local elected officials would lose some of their powers.
- Ohio - Gov. Kasich Proposed Budget Cuts
From the sidebar:
- Libraries will see a 5 percent cut.
- A 25 percent cut per year in the Local Government Fund for two years.
- An 11.5 percent cut in K-12 education for fiscal year 2012 and a 4.9 percent cut for fiscal year 2013. That includes elimination of one-time federal stimulus money.
- Closing seven regional Taxpayer Service Centers, including one in Youngstown, and eliminating 99 jobs. That’s a savings of $1 million over the two years, not including the staff reductions.
- A 6 percent cut in fiscal year 2012 for the state’s seven business incubators, including the one in Youngstown, and the elimination of all funding for the incubators in 2013 to save a total of $15.9 million over two years. The state is expected to fund the incubators through the new JobsOhio program in 2013, however.
- Pennsylvania - Corbett, Legislature sued over adultBasic expiration
Gov. Tom Corbett and other state officials have been named as defendants in a lawsuit for allowing the expiration of adultBasic, a state health insurance program for the working poor.
The complaint alleges that the state government is violating the law -- specifically, the Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Act and the state constitution -- by allowing adultBasic funding to drop to zero. That's because the state law, according to the complaint, requires that a portion of the annual tobacco settlement money go to adultBasic.
The governor on Monday reiterated that the state was trying to save money.
"I would remind everybody, including those people who have filed the lawsuit against whoever they have filed the lawsuit, that this was a program that was not sufficiently funded," Mr. Corbett.
- Kansas - Kan. governor details budget cuts
Gov. Sam Brownback is cutting $56.5 million from the current Kansas budget, taking the biggest chunk from aid to the state's 289 public school districts.
- Florida - Florida governor's budget will hurt schools: Moody's
Florida Governor Rick Scott's budget proposals calling for sweeping corporate and property tax cuts are a credit negative for school districts in the fourth most populous U.S. state, Moody's Investors Service said on Thursday.
Some Brevard County residents told WFTV Tuesday that one of the Governor's plans to save money could cripple the economy he's trying to help. The Cocoa Beach pier has not always been so wide and residents said they could lose everything if the Governor stops funding beach renourishment.
Opponents tried one last time — and failed — to make changes to a bill that would dramatically reform the way public school teachers are evaluated, paid and hired. Now the fast-track legislation is one step away from the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, who has indicated he will sign it.
The Florida House moved along Senate Bill 736, which would tie teacher pay to student test scores, eliminate so-called tenure for new hires as of July 1 and end layoffs based on seniority. The chamber will take a vote on the proposal Wednesday afternoon.
- Wisconsin - After weeks of divisiveness, lawmakers extend an olive branch
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, on Tuesday rescinded a series of fines and penalties aimed at Democrats, including a contempt order that could have prevented the minority party from voting in committee meetings the next three weeks.
- Arizona - Bill for Flat Income Tax Clears Arizona House
The bill would gradually reduce them to a flat rate of just below 2.1 percent. It also would repeal some current credits, deductions, adjustments and exemptions.
Democrat critics of the bill said there's evidence that the bill actually could increase taxes paid by Arizonans.
What each of these state-related stories has in common: A Republican governor, a Republican legislature, union employees, and a budget deficit. The last item is being used as an excuse for the first two items to slam the union employees and teachers, make a lot of noise, stir up a lot of dust, and pander to the US Chamber of Commerce in the process.
I have a theory. It's only a theory and I might have to put my tinfoil hat on while I'm sharing it, but it goes like this. Jobs were the wedge that kept everyone disengaged during the midterms. That got a bunch of Club for Growth governors elected, who are now paying off their business cronies, at which time we will see jobs begin to emerge again.
In other words, a deal was struck: Kill the unions, we'll start hiring.
Removing my tinfoil hat now. Tell me what you think.