Saturday, March 14, 2009

Recovery Delayed: Bishop Wants to Wait Until May on Stimulus for Michigan

The Republicans are right. We need to rip the "shroud of secrecy" off the stimulus spending, so, in the interest of transparency, here is the latest on what is happening with Michigan's portion of the stimulus. WXYZ, through the AP, features a story on the road funding, with the promise that both parties want to get that money "out the door". One caveat though; the West Michigan Republicans need to check it over to make sure it's "fair". And a big clue that this is indeed a political thing for the Republicans: Jud Gilbert tips his hand, and puts it in partisan terms.

"Some of the membership has been concerned that maybe some of the projects will flow more toward the Democratic-side districts than the Republican," said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac.

Gilbert is Vice Chair of this new layer of government, the stimulus subcommittee that was set up by the Senate Republicans this week. By the way, they gave themselves a 5-3 majority for a program that they don't even believe in. The whole committee, courtesy of MIRS:

Appropriations Chair Ron JELINEK (R-Three Oaks) will serve as Chair and Sen. Jud GILBERT (R-Algonac) will be Vice Chair. Other members are Sen. John PAPPAGEORGE (R-Troy), Sen. Roger KAHN (R-Saginaw), Sen. Mark JANSEN (R-Gaines Twp.), Sen. Mickey SWITALSKI (D-Roseville), Sen. Deb CHERRY (D-Burton) and Sen. Irma CLARK-COLEMAN (D-Detroit).

There is your cast of characters. Switalski will stay on top of things, but will it get out that Republicans are doing what they can to delay this effort? Maybe. Coming to the surface in this AP story is the important fact that Mike Bishop, who at one time loudly proclaimed that we shouldn't use the stimulus money on the budget because it would delay making $1.6 billion in "necessary cuts", now wants to wait until May before we start putting the stimulus towards Michigan's recovery. Why? Well, not only do they have a two-week vacation in April, he wants to wait and see where the budget is at that time. Quite the about-face for a guy that wanted this separate from the budget in the first place, don't you think?

What this boils down to is: All you people looking for jobs are just going to have to wait.

But Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop says it may be better to wait until after state economists provide an updated report on Michigan's budget problems in May before more stimulus money is spent.

Democrats say existing appropriations committees can handle the recovery act spending bills. Sen. Michael Switalski, D-Roseville, says a special committee could "create more talking and less working" on stimulus bills, creating delays.

Bishop says his intent is not to delay stimulus spending but rather to make sure it's done wisely.

Yes, just as wisely as they did on the budget problem in '07, when they put the whole thing off until the very last minute and then drove the government right to a shutdown, and then took a couple more months creating the dreaded MBT surcharge that they now want to use the stimulus money to eliminate.

The track record of Senate "wisdom" speaks for itself. Other states are already putting people back to work, while our legislature will take their sweet time on Michigan's recovery.

Vacation comes first, you know.