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Cost of legislative franking

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"(Rep. Klint) Kesto's district is a difficult district, so he'll spend a lot more," McCready said.

Kesto (R), who is serving his second term in the 39th District, spent a total of $36,918 on postage and printing in 2014 the same year in which he narrowly beat Democratic challenger Sandy Colvin in the general election, as well as two Republican challengers in the 2014 August primary. By comparison, Kesto spent $18,934 on postage and printing in 2013, his first year in office.

In the 41st District, Rep. Martin Howrylak (R) who took Knollenberg's seat after he moved on to the Senate spent $31,314 on postage and $6,002 on printing in 2014. That year Howrylak, also in his second term in the House, beat former Troy councilwoman Mary Kerwin in a hard-fought general election.

"It can have a great impact on re-election rates. I think that's a key perk of office," Dulio said regarding franking privileges. "It helps explain why we see, in the U.S. House and Senate, re-election rates of over 90 percent every two years. It also allows members to communicate with their constituents and brag about how good of a job they are doing, which translates to free advertising for them."

Howrylak said while he isn't sure if mailings help with name recognition, he said they are an effective way to communicate with constituents. However, he also said he is surprised by how many requests for information, particularly printed materials, his office receives.

"We have one bucket, and anything that needs to be spent comes out of that budget," he said about the amount spent on mailings. "We have been on the lower end on staff salaries, which has afforded us with the opportunity to print more.

"It is effective. We have to use every channel available to us to communicate, whether that's mail or e-mail. Despite all of this, we still have people that don't know what's going on... My hope is that people talk about the issues we put in there. We do find people engaging us on the issues."

Wayne State University Professor Timothy Bledsoe, who also served in the state 1st House District (Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe and part of Detroit), agreed that bulk mailings may serve as a method of self promotion. He said the effectiveness of mailings is harder to determine.

"There's no good way to measure it," he said of bulk mailings. "It's a way of getting your name out there, and maybe some stories that you want to tell to your community. There are many different ways to do mailings."

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