Confused by Pettalia’s stance on legislature

On January 27 I attended the meeting that our State Rep. Peter Pettalia held in Harrisville. A recently-approved petition drive has been launched to change the Michigan State Legislature from full-time to part-time, and accordingly to cut the salaries of Representatives approximately in half, while also limiting the total number of legislative employees to 250. I was interested in Mr. Pettalia’s position on this proposal. I assumed that he must know that Michigan is one of only four states in the U.S. to have a full-time legislature, and that our legislative salaries ($71,685) are also in the top five nationally. I also assumed that Mr. Pettalia would be in favor of the proposal, since it is clearly a step toward a smaller, more efficient government. Imagine my surprise when Mr. Pettalia strongly opposed the idea. His stated reason for this opposition was also confusing to me. He said that our area (northeast Michigan) already suffers from having less representation in Lansing than more populous districts downstate, and that changing to a part-time legislature would somehow make this imbalance worse. But since representation is proportional, part-time or full-time makes no difference. Thus I am wondering if Mr. Pettalia actually just objects to having his salary cut. I would say that $35,000 for 60 days in session is still pretty good compensation, and that less time making laws and more time in district helping constituents would be positive steps.

Abigail Thomas