Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bishop "comfortable" with obstructing job creation

Hey, no rush, take your time, guys. Don't worry about that 7.1 unemployment rate. You still have a job, right?

But next year, when you run around and complain about how bad our economy is here in Michigan, and you point the finger at the Democrats and the governor as being the reason, let's hope that voters remember how Republicans put on a full court stall when it came to making the moves that might help alleviate our problems.

While ever-the-optimist Granholm was telling Gongwer that an agreement was possible this week on a deal with the business tax, in another part of the state Mike Bishop indicated it might be just a wee bit longer.

Bishop had no time to work on the MBT yesterday, but he did have plenty of time to sit down with the Free Press and opine on the things he would do if "he were governor".

"There is a real hesitation on my part to agree to something that isn't right," he said. "As long as we get it done by July, I feel comfortable we've done the right thing."

The "right thing", according to Bishop, is taking nearly a full year to tell business what their tax liability will be here in Michigan, costing us jobs, investment, and drawing the negative attention of the national media. Tim Martin's AP story was picked up by Forbes, letting the whole country know that we just can't seem to get it together.

Business recruiters in Michigan say they are hamstrung by uncertainty surrounding the state's tax structure.

Out-of-state companies are hesitant to commit to Michigan without knowing their future tax liability. Even some in-state companies are gun-shy about completing plans while the state Legislature and Gov. Jennifer Granholm continue their months-long squabble over replacing a business tax that expires at the end of this year.

"We are seeing companies in a holding pattern because they have no idea what their tax liability will be," said Birgit Klohs, president of The Right Place Inc., a regional nonprofit economic development organization based in Grand Rapids.

Klohs worries her region and the state may have lost out on a potential 400-job, $8 million operation because of state government's inaction on replacing the Single Business Tax. A leader of the out-of-state company has followed the issue on the Internet. Klohs said the company official e-mailed her recently, basically saying don't bother to contact the company again until the state gets its act together on the business tax.

Mike is comfortable with that. That's the kind of governor we all want, right? One that lets the competition eat our lunch?

Michigan's uncertainty over tax bills may give other states and foreign countries a competitive edge.

"Every day we're competing with 49 other states," said Mike Shore, a spokesman for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., a quasi-public part of state government that partners with local communities to attract jobs. "They can talk with certainty about what the tax structure will be. We can't."

And while Mike is denying new job creation, he also wants large groups of currently employed people to jump in on the race to the bottom. Especially if those people are part of a union.

As long as someone is giving up their pay and benefits, the Republicans are happy.

Dumping the 4% raise for state employees would save an estimated $109.9 million for fiscal 2007-08.

The Legislature can rescind or reduce a pay increase with two-thirds-majority votes in the House and Senate, but a Senate effort earlier this year to block the pay increase failed to generate enough support, and no vote was held. The state constitution requires that such a vote take place within a certain time frame, which expired in April.

Earlier in Granholm's tenure, employees agreed to concessions, including banked leave time, in which they received more time off in exchange for reduced pay, and worked some days without pay.

Sandra Parker, president of UAW Local 6000, the largest state employee union, said workers should not be punished for bad decisions by state policy makers.

"For them to come back now, once again, and have their hands out -- to me, that's unconscionable," she said.

Granholm's press secretary, Liz Boyd, questioned Bishop's comments because he never ordered a Senate vote to reject the pay increase.

That's because this is yet another stall tactic, Liz.

First they complained incessantly about teachers, now we will hear about government employees. Anything to push a budget agreement off until the very last minute- killing an entire year in the process and so they can turn around next year and say that nothing ever gets done under Democratic leadership, and, lookee here, they raised your taxes, too.

Republicans need things to be bad here in Michigan. They have nothing else to run on.

The scary thing is the Democrats seem "comfortable" with this, too. Dillon, on the progress of the '07 talks a couple of weeks ago, used the same words. And look how that turned out.

"I can tell you we're comfortable with where we're at," Mr. Dillon said.

Further proof these two spend too much time together; they are using the same talking points.

Sure glad everyone is "comfortable" with this. Hard to imagine why the rest of us are upset.