Thursday, June 4, 2009

Q&A with Sen. Ron Jelinek (R-Three Oaks, 21st District)

State Senator Ron Jelinek has represented the 21st District in the Michigan Senate for the past six years. He is the current chairman of the Appropriations Committee and therefore is in the middle of the budget cut discussions of recent days. He graciously consented to answer some questions I posed to him about his work in the Senate.

1) As chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, you currently have the uneviable task of helping to determine what areas of the state budget will see cuts. What areas of the budget do you think should be first in line for cuts? Why? What areas of the budget, if any, should not be cut, and why?

Sen. Jelinek: As I write this, we are in the process of coming to agreement in our caucus of what our budget priorities are. That does not mean they won’t be cut, but the reduction may be less at the expense of other programs that feel larger reductions or total elimination. We have agreed that health, safety and education need to be preserved as much as possible. We do need to look at specific program spending however, and not just general categories. For example: We should try to preserve the basic foundation per-pupil grant, but individual programs such as bus inspections or some early childhood programs may need to be eliminated or reduced.

2) Why did you choose to give up six days of your Senate pay?

Sen. Jelinek: I gave up 6 days pay because we required it of all state employees as a budget balancing tool. I am no different, I should participate. My 6 days alone will not make very much of a difference, but added to the other state employees and legislators, it does make a difference. I would much rather give up some days than see layoffs.

3) After your term ends in 2010, how do you anticipate remaining involved in Michigan politics?

Sen. Jelinek: I am not sure of my future; I will try to make myself available to my party and its candidates in anyway I can serve them best.

4) Looking back over your time in the legislature, of what achievements are you the most pleased?

Sen. Jelinek: No one can say that they accomplished things alone – it takes an entire legislature. I have tried to personally speak for education and its funding to the best levels possible. I have also tried to maintain a balanced budget with common sense and recognize the wishes and needs of the people of this state. Also, everyday I am contacted by a constituent who has a personal dilemma that is of great importance to them. If I can help solve their problem satisfactorily, I consider that to be my greatest achievement.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I'm not familiar with him but he sounds like a great person on paper. I always appreciate the person who recognizes they didn't accomplish things alone...team leaders.