When it comes to child welfare, Sen. Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale, thinks Kent county should privatize everything but child protective services, much like Wayne county.
"Since we allowed Wayne county to be treated as a unique entity, why can't we look at doing that as much as possible in the rest of the state, allowing communities to go in the direction they're most comfortable with," Caswell said.
A senate budget bill calls for just that in Kent county, where the private sector is already involved. But state worker spokesperson Ray Holman worries it's the wrong move for everyone.
"Farming out the state's responsibility is going to come back to haunt us all," said Holman, spokesperson for UAW Local 6000.
Holman also opposes a house budget bill that would move 90 youth from three state juvenille justice facilities to private centers. Rep. Dave Agema says it'd save taxpayers more than $11 million.
"You're talking about people that may have mental health issues. You could be talking about sex offenders. These individuals and these children need to be treated in these state facilities," said Holman.
Finally, a senate workgroup is studying privatizing medicaid eligibility determination. If President Obama's Affordable Care Act is upheld, an estimated 500,000 more michiganders will become eligible for medicaid in 2014.
"Turn it over to private companies. Take the burden off our state workers," said Caswell.
But Holman says it's not a burden, but their job - a job state workers do best.
A DHS spokesperson declined to comment on the privatization push, saying it's too early. We'll continue to follow up with the agency and keep you all posted as this moves forward.