LANSING, MICH. - Less than a year from now, new people will move into all four elective offices in Michigan state government's executive branch, and taxpayers will cover the cost of moving those new folks in and remaking the public face of government in their image.
Those expenses will come out of the annual state budget that begins Oct. 1, meaning term-limited Gov. Rick Snyder will ask lawmakers for moving money in the annual budget request he'll present next month.
A final figure wasn't available last week, but transition costs for the governor's office should be similar to the 2010-11 budget year, when taxpayers spent about $1.46 million moving Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Lt. Gov. John Cherry out of the executive office and Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley in, State Budget Office spokesman Kurt Weiss said.
Weiss said that million-and-a-half won't cover transition costs for replacing Attorney General Bill Schuette or Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, both of whom also are term-limited and seeking other offices. The State Budget Office doesn't specifically budget transition costs for those offices, which have to cover such expenses out of normal appropriations, Weiss said.
Some of that work is already happening. When printed materials with Johnson's name on them need to be reordered, for example, her office has been replacing them with items printed with a generic Secretary of State logo, spokesman Fred Woodhams said in an email to the State Journal.
"We don’t expect to have large stores of literature that will need to be destroyed because it has Secretary Johnson’s name on it," Woodhams said. "Like her predecessor, Secretary Johnson did not have her name put on exterior office signs across the state so they won’t have to be changed."
In the governor's office, the $1.5 million will cover new computers and software, office supplies and furnishings, printing costs and other items for the new governor. For Snyder's team, taxpayers will cover payouts for any unused sick or vacation days for Snyder's staff, payoff of copier leases, and rental of storage space for Snyder's official records while they are reviewed and categorized.
But, in an increasingly digital government, moving in a new executive isn't as simple as changing the nameplate on a desk or hauling out old file cabinets.
Pages on Michigan.gov will have to be updated with the names and images of the winners of November's general election, Caleb Buhs, spokesman for the state Department of Technology, Management & Budget, said in an email to the State Journal. Software programs will have to be updated to reflect the new executives, including ones that auto-generate letters with the executive's name at the top.
Buhs said it wasn't yet clear how many web pages or software programs would have to be updated, but the governor and lieutenant governor's sites require the most work. Those pages will be completely redesigned, with input from the new administration.
Work throughout the rest of state government will vary by agency, where officials are responsible for identifying and requesting needed updates.
"With the modernization of many of our state systems during the past seven years, modifications of this nature are far less labor intensive than they used to be," Buhs said. "DTMB will work with each agency to identify the necessary changes and execute them at the appropriate time."
State facilities, also overseen by DTMB, typically don't have signage or photos of the governor, Buhs said. If an agency did have a photo of Snyder, Schuette or Johnson up, it would be up to them to request a change.
All of that work would be done from regular appropriations, Buhs said.
There are currently 23 gubernatorial candidates who have formed fundraising committees for this year's campaign. Five are running for attorney general and four are running for secretary of state. Winners chosen in November will take office on Jan. 1.
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