(Now with answers)
The state budget deficit. OMG, we are going to have to deal with this budget. I was kind of hoping the world would end or the Rapture would happen or I'd win the lottery and run off to the Virgin Islands before I had to start dealing with this issue, because I just can't tell which end is up and who wants what. You've got Republicans sounding like Democrats and Democrats sounding like Republicans and dogs and cats sleeping together and nothing makes any sense anymore... but it never did it the first place with this bunch, so what else is new.
Quite frankly, your state lawmakers are all over the board. On everything. Timing, taxes, stimulus spending, you name it. They were going to have the budget done by break, they are going to have it done by Aug. 1st, they are going to have it done by Sept. 1st. Or something like that. My guess is Sept. 30th. Dillon was going to introduce a tax plan, wait, he's not going to introduce a tax plan, but he's working with Detroit Renaissance, no, actually he's not working with Detroit Renaissance, but the House is going to be holding hearings starting now - and it's mid-July. Alrighty then. The Senate will use the stimulus to cut the MBT and give taxpayers rebates, the Senate will put all the stimulus to "job creation", the Senate will spread out the stimulus but destroy the state with budget cuts and that is exactly what they did - but they really don't want to do that, and are begging the Dems and the administration to come up with something, anything, please save us from actually having to do this.
With all that in mind, here are some quotes made in the past couple of months concerning the deficit and cuts and taxes - see if you can match the quote with the legislator. (Or, legislator's mouthpiece in the case of Marsden - and that one is pretty much a gimme)
1) "If we are going to raise revenue, it needs to be in a fashion that does the least damage to job providers." (R - Roger Kahn, Freep)
2) "Let's start talking with how far we can go with cuts." (D - Andy Dillon, Freep)
3) ____ _____ said the state could generate $400 million more by reducing tax credits for businesses that don't produce more jobs. (R - Nancy Cassis, Freep. Unfortunately Cassis is mostly talking about the film credits, the one area that is producing jobs.)
4) "If it means they want to raise taxes, they should be clear about that, they need to be honest with people. Stop complaining and start stepping up with solutions, we're all ears." (R - Mike Bishop Freep, seemingly asking for a tax increase. I don't think he meant it the way it sounds.)
5) "We increased revenue in 2007 (with MBT changes) and did that solve the budget crisis? No. After that, there's no way we'd support a tax increase." (Matt Marsden, MiTech/Gongwer, negates Bishop's statement. Who's really in charge there?)
6) "It's not a matter of raising taxes. That's not it at all. It's how do we create a fair tax that is more fair to businesses and individuals." (D - Gilda Jacobs, MIRS)
7) (On raising taxes to fix roads) "With the highest unemployment rate in the nation, Michigan can ill afford to ignore any opportunity to create jobs." (R - Jud Gilbert, mlive/Luke)
8) "I've got an economist who is now telling me that revenues could fall below $7 billion. When you get to that point, we're taking about potentially cutting the basic things. I don't think we're going to be getting the revenues we want." (D - George Cushingberry, MIRS)
9) (On cuts to the Dept. of Community Health budget) "Very, very, very tough responsibility to balance spending with revenues." (D - Jim Barcia, MIRS)
10) "I don't know anyone who's worked as hard to preserve revenue sharing." (R - John Pappageorge, MIRS)
a) Jim Barcia
b) Mike Bishop
c) Nancy Cassis
d) George Cushingberry
e) Andy Dillon
f) Jud Gilbert
g) Gilda Jacobs
h) Roger Kahn
i) Matt Marsden
j) John Pappageorge
Six Repubs and four Dems. Give it a shot if you want; the answers will surprise you.
Fearless prediction: In the end, they are going to raise revenue AND make drastic cuts. Along the way, they will manage to piss off everyone in the state, but because this solution will be so convoluted, they won't be able to use it against each other in 2010.
We can only hope. After this is over, I doubt anyone will want to hear about it - except maybe to tell small children around camp fires in the deep, dark woods, flashlight pointed under your chin as you end the tale with this:
"... and after the people of Michigan came to Lansing to drag them out of their offices and down to the Grand River, no one ever heard from them again. But, sometimes late at night, you can still hear their screams echoing though the dome of the Capitol...."
I'm going to the beach now. You should too. Get out there and enjoy this summer, for soon the migraines will start. I'll fill in the answers tomorrow.