Monday, April 13, 2009

More Budget Cuts = Back Door Tax Increases

You say you want more state budget cuts? We are scraping the bottom of the barrel as it is, as evidenced by the proposed state cuts to the Poison Control Centers in GR and Detroit. The state only provides a portion of the funding to the centers; the feds, the hospitals, and charity pick up the rest, and you get the impression this is one of those things that we are hoping will be covered somehow so we can keep it going (think feds and the wetlands protection). But, chances are you will pay for this cut, one way or another. Here is how it works in GR:

The Poison Control Center at DeVos Children's Hospital has an operating budget of $1.4 million, and 17 percent of it -- $250,000 -- is an annual subsidy from the state of Michigan, according to the Spectrum Health statement. Another 21 percent of the funding comes from the federal government and 3 percent is support from the United Way.

But the majority of the center's funding -- roughly 60 percent -- comes from DeVos Children's Hospital itself and the Spectrum Health spokesman, Bruce Rossman, said the possible state funding cut would force the children's hospital's patients to subsidize the poison center.

Pay a little now, or pay a lot later. This is happening in nearly every facet of public life. Cuts to schools, roads, public safety, environment, health care, all of it - will come back to bite us somehow. Remember this the next time some state Republican insists on "more cuts", and yet won't tell you exactly what it is they would cut. Reason why? There is nowhere left to go where you won't end up paying eventually, or that some group isn't going to scream their head off about, because they all have done that so far. When you hear "we have to cut government waste and tackle reforms" from a Republican mouthpiece or any of these "citizens" at their sore-loser teabagging parties, just translate that into "we don't have any real ideas and are just wasting your oxygen and time when we talk". Makes it easier on your head.

That being said, we still are in some really deep water on the budget, and we are looking at more cuts no matter how we play this. The stimulus will not cover the deficit...

The state budget situation is so bad that every dime of federal recovery money could be used to patch holes in the budget, and significant cuts would still have to be made, Gov. Jennifer Granholm said today.

"Suffice to say ... we have not seen an uptick in the sales tax, the income tax, the property tax or the business tax," Granholm said during a news conference at the State Capitol.

State tax receipts have been coming in at least $100 million a month short of projections made in January due to the anemic economy. Legislative leaders will huddle with the state budget director Thursday to discuss the budget in detail, the governor said.

... and we have yet to see the Republicans put up their ideas for nearly $2 billion (or more) in cuts that they are insisting on.

Cuts to the poison centers are going to be the least of our troubles. Get ready for an interesting year.