State of Michigan wasting money lobbying itself

It came to light this week that government agencies in the state of Michigan spent more than half a million dollars on state legislature lobbying efforts in 2012.

According to the story first reported in The Lansing State Journal, state agencies last year utilized $556,000 in staff time and resources in an attempt to advance the interests of the agencies and of Gov. Rick Snyder.

In our opinion, that’s a monumental waste of taxpayer money.

A Snyder representative said the lobbying efforts – the governor’s executive office reported $96,000 in lobbying expenses – involved paying staff to listening to hearings and talk with lawmakers.

He said those actions are “nothing insidious” and argued that every administration undertakes such efforts.

While previous administrations have undertaken such lobbying efforts, it hasn’t always been so costly. In 2003, for instance, state agencies spent $190,700 on lobbying.

More importantly, though, is it necessary to spend the public’s money in this way?

In presenting his annual state budget proposal earlier this month, Snyder talked about the need to be fiscally responsible. Certainly, that must include responsible handling of taxpayer dollars.

Although $556,000 is a drop of water in the ocean that is a $50.9 billion state budget, it is not a wholly insignificant amount.

To an individual community, that money could be hugely important. The Marquette County Land Bank Authority, for instance, recently received preliminary approval for a $486,000 grant that will be used to demolish abandoned buildings at K.I. Sawyer.

That seems like a much more responsible use of a half million dollars.

In repeatedly mentioning his aversion to controversial legislative issues, the governor has said that there are many changes to be made in Michigan that everyone can agree on.

If that’s true, Snyder should follow his own blueprint.

His office, and the agencies under his control, should limit the lobbying and focus on something everyone agrees on – like using state dollars wisely.