Saturday, January 17, 2009

Reform Michigan Government. The Whole Darn Thing.

Mike Bishop - 12/29/08.

"There's going to be a transformational change in state government," he said in a Dec. 29 interview. "We are cutting important stuff, no question about it. People in this state are going to be asked to accept a different form of government."

OK. Whatever you say, Mike.

Governor Jennifer Granholm is apparently beginning the process of a massive overhaul of state government to "transform" it so government is more flexible and responsive to new economic realities, sources have said.

She may make the restructuring announcement part of her State of the State address on February 3.

While details are sketchy, Ms. Granholm apparently is naming Lt. Governor John Cherry to chair a new executive committee of her cabinet, with top officials acting as secretaries to oversee the multi-year effort that will extend through the rest of her term and go possibly into the first term of her successor.

One source, and all spoke on background, said Mr. Cherry has signaled this announcement at several interviews where he has said Michigan's government structure is now based on a 1950s manufacturing model when it must be based on 21st Century realities that reflect an economy that is now largely services-based.

You wants reform? You want cuts? You want to fix the ongoing "structural" deficit problem that comes up year after year? That is what you are gonna get. And this is the time to do it.

But the economic crisis the state is undergoing, with the need for cuts to help keep government's budget balanced, helps put officials in a position to undertake the overall review, sources indicated.

There are indications that legislators, universities and others will be asked to be part of the review process.

The review process will look at how to eliminate duplication of functions, standardize operations and procedures, sources said. Those would be in keeping with other efforts Ms. Granholm has taken to streamline some operations, they said.

The process is expected to take years because of the complexities of adjusting law, moving personnel, closing offices let alone agencies and departments (and one source said eventually departments will be consolidated and eliminated) and re-establishing functions.

Gongwer cites the split between the DNR and the DEQ as an example - that took seven years.

Between Dillon wanting to overhaul the tax system, and the governor wanting to overhaul the entire government (who gave these people Wheaties for Christmas, anyway?) - we are going to find out just how serious the Republicans are about "reform".

Good luck everyone. Look forward to seeing how this all shakes out.