About a month ago I sent out a letter to Bill Caul, 99th District State Representative, to see if his office could send me some political items for a scrapbook project in one of my classes. Not only, did Mr. Caul send me pages and pages of items, but he invited me to the Capital to be his guest for the day. After a few emails back and forth, our plans were set. So, with that, Grandma and I packed up and shipped out this last Thursday, March 6, 2008.....
After circling the Capitol two or three times, we finally found a parking garage that suited our needs. I was ready, with map in hand, (which I now seem to carry ever since the story that Jock has cited about me). We were to go to Bill Caul's office in the Anderson Building right off the Northwest corner of the Capitol Building. We arrived at the right place, went up 12 floors, and entered room 1288. This was, of course, after showing our ID to the security guard. I was then greeted by an intern for Bill Caul, and he sent me to the Joint-Outlay Appropriations room, where Bill Caul is on the Join-Outlay Committee. We found that room on the West end of the Capitol Building, and entered. 19 Senators and Representatives were sittting in the front. About 18 of us were in the gallery. Mr. Caul (an old friend of my grandmother's) recognized us as soon as we walked in the room. He politely nodded, and then got up from his chair to greet us. He walked over and introduced himself and welcomed me to the city. He handed me an envelope full of material, as if he was briefing me on what was going on. I felt much less important when I opened it to see that it was just basic information about the building itself, and such.
The meeting, scheduled to start at 9 AM, started around 9:35 AM, right on time for any US Government meeting. All around me there were donuts being eaten, coffee being drank, and cell phones chirping. The constant buzz of chatter was always present. The first item on the agenda was a construction project for the University of Michigan. The lobbyist representing the University was asking for approval of a self funded $1 billion worth of construction, with a couple hundred million dollars worth of renovations. By self funded, they actually meant 75% self, 25% government. However, this committee doesn't approve the state funding, so she received 19 yes votes.
Next, we had a nice discussion with Bill Caul. I asked him my prepared question: why do bigger schools, such as Midland High, receive more state money per student than smaller schools, such as Coleman High?
Mr. Caul had an excellent reason, and I now understand why that works.
Midland, as a city, pays higher property taxes. Also, they have many more people contributing to the tax base. A larger tax base is a larger tax payment to the state, which means they get more money back out of the state. So basically, they're fronting the most money, so they should be able to get the benefits.
Later on, we sat in on the Senate and Mr. Caul sat with us. We watched the Senate pass about 17 bills into laws. It wasn't very entertaining, since they were all Third Readings, so they were all passing unanimously. We then ate lunch, compliments of the Michigan Conservationists (they had some bills that they wanted passed, so they provided the House and Senate lunches for the day).
Next, we watched Mr. Caul in the House of Representatives. Congressman Sak, the President Pro-Tempore, presided over the House. Mr. Caul stood up to the podium with the microphone, and Mr. Sak said "The floor acknowledges Mr. Caul" which means Bill Caul was allowed to speak. He said, "Fellow Representatives, I would like you to welcome John Porter as he is here with an interest in the study of Legislature, with his grandmother." Mr. Sak replied with, "John Porter please rise and will the House welcome him, along with his Grandmother, to the House of Representatives to witness the State Legislature."
How cool. I waved, it's all I could do. I stood there and waved, as the Michigan House of Representatives clapped for me.