Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
The Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan Democrats are considering using the ballot measure process to push economic populism next year. The ideas:
o Hiking the minimum wage to $10 an hour for all workers.
o Imposing a blanket moratorium on home foreclosures for 12 months.
o Cutting utility bills by 20% across the board.
o Requiring all employers to provide health care to employees and their dependents.
o Hiking by $100 a week -- and extending for six months -- unemployment benefits, while expanding eligibility.
The Republicans control the Michigan Senate, which is why it's tempting for Democrats to turn to the ballot to achieve their policy goals. But, electoral politics probably also is playing a role here. Democrats want to make sure their labor loyalists show up to vote next year, when control of the governorship and legislature is at stake.
I'm skeptical that ballot measures can boost turnout in presidential election years. If you don't care who is elected president, you almost certainly don't care about politics. However, in a midterm year, when turnout usually is quite a bit lower, using ballot measures to drive voters to the polls makes a lot of sense.
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