Thursday, March 19, 2009

Six O'Clock News - March Madness Edition

  • March Madness starts today, with Michigan taking on Clemson in KC tonight at 7:10, and MSU facing Robert Morris at 9:50 Friday in Minneapolis. Not a huge basketball fan, but these games are always fun to watch. Good luck to our Michigan teams!

  • Heartbreak. Uni-Solar shutting for a couple of weeks due to the credit crunch and recession causing people and business to hold off on solar installations. I still expect them to take off as recovery takes hold - especially if the White House was serious about its alternative energy goals, which they are. Just hang on.

  • Better news - net metering is here! This allows you to set up your own wind/solar energy at your home or business and get credit for the excess you feed back into the system. This is THE future if we play our cards right - individual self-sustaining energy production right at the source. As the technology gets better and this takes hold, you can foresee a day when all new construction will build these right in. Retro-fitting of old homes/buildings might take some time though. Also, there is that pesky "archaic" electrical grid problem to deal with... but we will get there, slowly but surely.

  • GM is committed to the Volt, now working on second and third generation vehicles so they can eventually bring the initial $40,000 price tag down. There are 30 Chevy Cruze on the road as we speak, using the Volt battery pack as well. If muscle is more your style, the 2010 Camaro has hit dealerships - and gas mileage on those aren't all that bad. 29 mpg for the V-6, and 25 mpg for the V-8. Yummy pictures are here.

  • The Dept. of History, Arts and Libraries has launched a new site called Seeking Michigan, a collection of Michigan's history in photos, audio clips, maps and documents available online, some for the first time. A must-see for Michigan history buffs.

  • House passes road stimulus money, one West Michigan Republican, Rep. Bolger from Marshall votes "no" because he doesn't like how some of it is "prioritized" - but he's not against the stimulus, oh no. This is called hedging your bets in case it's needing for re-election in a red area later. The bill moves on to the Senate, where there are seven whole shopping session days left until Spring Break.

  • The smoking ban argument is back. Yippee. Just get it over with, alright? This is going to happen someday anyway, and the gridlock in Lansing just makes y'all look bad, and God knows you don't need any more help in that department. Which brings us to...

  • Senate Republicans passed more tax cuts. And tax credits. In other breaking news, sun rises in the east. Meanwhile, Dillon has something up his sleeve concerning the whole ball of tax wax, and it's a darn good thing because I think the Senate has got us about $3 billion in the hole at this point. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of "Lansing Gone Wild", same time, same station. Viewer discretion advised.

  • Set 'em straight, Bob! Recently the Anderson Economic Group came out with a study that showed that Michigan was 22nd in the nation when it came to business taxes based on profits alone. Not bad, but I decided to ignore it because it was based on the 2006 rates and the SBT, which is now kaput and made it all irrelevant anyway. Much wailing and garment rending ensued after from the tax freaks. Today, Bob Kleine told the Freep some truth behind current rates:

    The study cited in your March 12 editorial "Advantage Buckeyes: Ohio trumps Michigan in a key measure of business tax burdens" used 2006 data that is no longer relevant, given that both Michigan and Ohio have since revamped their respective business tax structures.


    Ohio's effective sales tax rate is 6.8%. Michigan's is 6%.

    In addition, Ohio taxes 14 business services while Michigan taxes only seven, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators.

    Finally, the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index for 2009, which measures how tax laws affect economic performance, shows Michigan has a "more favorable" tax system for businesses. Michigan was ranked 20th in the country, ahead of every Midwestern state except Indiana. Ohio came in 47th.

    Michigan is not a high-tax state. Repeat: Michigan is not a high-tax state. Spread the word before the Republicans drive away even more business with their continuously bad-mouthing our tax climate.