By BETH ALTENA
State Representative Peter MacGregor was a guest at Rockford Rotary Tuesday, October 30. Among announcements prior to MacGregor’s talk, Rotarians noted that Rotary’s Sweetheart Splash, which is always the Saturday before Valentine’s Day, will also be the day of Rockford’s Ice Festival, now organized by the Rockford Chamber—extra reasons to brave the cold this year.
MacGregor began by reminding Rotarians that, due to redistricting because of the recent census figures, he will no longer represent the City of Rockford or the City of Cedar Springs as well as everything north and west of Ten Mile.
His new district will include East Grand Rapids, and the townships of Grand Rapids, Plainfield, Cannon, Courtland, Spencer, Oakfield and Nelson. “I will have fifty percent new area but much smaller,” he said. He still considers himself a Rockford person with three boys who have attended Rockford, two still in school and one a graduate now at Hope College.
MacGregor said he serves on the Appropriations Committee in his role as legislator and handed out a “cheat sheet” of the state budget and school aid budget. He noted how little of the school budget comes from Lottery and tobacco sales. “It’s a lot of dollars, but when you compare it to the total budget, it’s a fraction,” he said. He also noted the budget figures can be confusing because much of the funding comes from matching federal funds.
Of a state budget of $48 billion, $8.9 billion of unassigned funds is “what we all fight about.” A large amount of the budget—$15 billion— is Community Health. “The big boy in community health is Medicade,” he said. The next biggest after Community Health is the School Aid Fund.
“When we lose population, when we lose jobs, people stop buying things, that’s what hurts our budget,” he said. He said Michigan has had nearly a million residents leave the state. MacGregor spent considerable time giving an overview of the proposals, which, by press time for this article, will be a moot point. He said basically, that he is leery of proposals that change the State Constitution, because once something is added to the constitution, it virtually is there forever, since nothing has ever been taken out after it has been added to the State Constitution.
“Even nationally, the Constitution has only ever had one thing taken out. That was prohibition, it was put in and then taken out again.”
Rockford Rotary meets each Tuesday at noon in the Rockford Community Cabin, 220 N. Monroe Street. The group is composed of local professionals in business and guests are always invited. Lunch is always very good and is catered by Grill One Eleven. Meetings either consist of club business, such as discussion of the annual Fruit and Nut Sale, which is going on now, or of interesting speakers such as State Representative Pete MacGregor.