Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker receives award from the Michigan Sheriffs Association

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker receives award from the Michigan Sheriffs Association

LANSING— State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker will be presented with a Special Advocate award from the Michigan Sheriff’s Association on Saturday for her work on behalf of crime victims.

At their 2012 Victim Services Continuing Education Conference in Traverse City, the Sheriffs recognized Schuitmaker for her work in the legislature strengthening protections for victims and shedding light on the challenges they face.

Last year, Sen. Schuitmaker sponsored legislation expanding fees paid by convicted criminals that support the Crime Victims’ Rights Fund.  The fund, established in 1985, provides victims of crimes with money for basic needs in the aftermath of a crime. Schuitmaker’s bills were signed into law in December.

“It is an honor to be recognized by such an outstanding group,” said Schuitmaker.  “I am simply one small part of a team that has labored for so many years to make sure victims receive the respect and dignity they deserve.”

April 22 – 28 was recognized as National Crime Victims’ Rights week.  Events across the country sought to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by victims and their families. Schuitmaker sponsored Senate Resolution 141, which recognized Crime Victims’ Rights week in Michigan. 

Schuitmaker also hosted the Michigan Crime Victim Foundation’s Twenty-First Annual Awareness & Recognition Program at the state Capitol this past Wednesday.  The event was an opportunity for victims and those who have lost loved ones to gather in remembrance and share memories. 

“It was incredibly moving to see the Capitol rotunda illuminated by candles and to think about what those candles represented,” Schuitmaker said.

Michigan families reported more than 500,000 new victims of crime in 2010 alone, and research consistently indicates that less than half of all crimes are reported.

Schuitmaker and Colbeck Bills mandate transparency in government spending

Schuitmaker and Colbeck Bills mandate transparency in government spending
Lt. Governor Calley testifies in Senate committee in support of transparency efforts

LANSING—Legislation requiring state departments to publicly disclose all spending was passed by the Senate Reforms, Restructuring, and Reinventing Committee today.  Lt. Gov. Brian Calley testified in support of the effort to bring greater transparency to state spending.

Senate Bill 21, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, and Senate Bill 802, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Colbeck, will require greater transparency and accountability from state government and will provide residents with additional information online about how taxpayer dollars are being spent.

“This transparency legislation will make it easier for all citizens to see where every penny is being spent and will reveal the true price of government,” said Colbeck, R-Canton. “We will soon be able trace money to the core services that justify the existence of a government agency, support services such as human resources, information technology and accounting that enable the delivery of these core services, and one-time work projects.

“This information will arm legislators and residents with the data we need to manage our government services more like a business so that we maximize the value of every tax dollar that we spend and improve customer service,” Colbeck noted.

“All of the money spent by the state government is money that was first earned by hardworking taxpayers,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “They have a right to know how it is being spent.

“This is probably something that should have happened a while ago, but better now than never,” added Schuitmaker

Lt. Gov. Calley testified before the committee about the efforts already underway by the governor’s office to increase transparency in spending and reinvent the budget process. Calley lent his support to the Senate’s efforts to put into statute measures to require continued transparency.

“We are trying to institutionalize the improved budget practices that are being followed today beyond just this year and beyond just the next term in office by seeing that performance management is something that is ingrained in the culture of government going forward,” Calley said. “Addressing this in statute would be an effective way to accomplish these goals, and this legislation essentially adopts that culture.”

SB 802 requires departments to develop spending plans for enacted budgets. The departments will have 60 days to finish and present these plans to the Legislature. In addition, these plans will be posted on each department website. The legislation requires departments to explain how they’re spending money and gives the Legislature the information they need to make smart budget decisions in upcoming years.

SB 21 focuses on the customer service aspect of state government. Government is using taxpayer money and residents want to know where it’s going and that it’s being used for the right purposes. Budgets will be based on metrics. Departments must define and meet certain goals in conjunction with the governor’s budget recommendations. Funding given to each department must be used to meet those objectives.

“Together, SB 802 and SB 21 enable value for money budgeting,” Colbeck concluded.