Monday, September 28, 2009

Is Dillon Lying About the Revenue Vote?

Curious statement from Senate Minority Leader Mike Prusi yesterday indicates that perhaps Dillon is once again making promises that he has no intention of keeping. Remember, he was going to have the budget done by summer, he was going to have the budget done by Sept. 1st, he was going to introduce three big "reform" proposals by now - and so far, he hasn't kept any of those promises, so it's really hard to believe a word he says at this point. The newest claim is that the Speaker is supposedly going to move revenue on the House floor tomorrow, and Prusi has been briefed on it, but yet he said this to the DNews -

Senate Minority Leader Mike Prusi, D-Ishpeming, said he hasn't seen any evidence the Legislature is poised to pass the $500 million-$600 million in revenue increases needed to save Promise college scholarships, early childhood education, revenue sharing and public school aid.

"It sounds like they (legislative leaders) are maintaining an all-cuts priority," Prusi said.

Where we stand now:

Since the target numbers for some budgets in this so-called "signed agreement" have obviously changed, the only option other than revenue at that point would be to tap more of the stimulus money to keep Dillon's promise of saving scholarships, Medicaid, revenue sharing, and whatever else it will take to slide this budget past both the Senate Democrats and Governor Granholm. The budget committee on corrections cut $42.7 million less than their target yesterday, forcing the Dept. of Corrections to find savings in the areas of health care, food, education and transportation to the tune of $841 per prisoner, a figure that Alma Wheeler Smith calls a "stretch" as she indicates a need for more revenue. One visit from 60 Minutes apparently wasn't enough and perhaps more prison uprisings are in store in the future as lawmakers simply pass the buck (or, no buck, in this case) to department officials to find these mythical savings.

While the Republicans were up on the Island of Dr. Moreau cheering for the obviously now quite insane notion of "more tax cuts" and trickle-down economics, Alan Cropsey was busy talking out of both sides of his mouth down here in the land of reality. He tells Peter Luke that he is "adamant" and doesn't "see any votes for tax or fee increases", but he tells Mark Hornbeck that "times change" when asked the same question - so who knows what the Senate Republicans are thinking at this point.

They still haven't moved the big budgets for revenue sharing and Medicaid out of committee yet (and others such as Transportation and Natural Resources), let alone vote for any of this stuff on the floor, but they did manage to cut libraries to the tune of 40%, from $10 million down to $6. If there are any books you wanted to read or studying you wanted to do at your local library - better do it now, or at least start making plans for how you are going to meet your needs in the future, because they might not be there after this vote.

Although lawmakers are off today for Yom Kippur, committees are still going to meet - so stayed tuned to see what they come up with next. Budget Director Bob Emerson indicated to MIRS last week that the targets on some budgets are constantly changing and legislators were given smaller cuts to work with as Bishop and Dillon asked for help from the administration, so this "signed agreement" is already out the window. What that means for any continuation is up in the air also.

Can they get the votes for revenue? Can they get the votes for cuts? Who wants to sign up to say they voted to bankrupt their local cities and schools? Dillon better get all his Republican friends in line to vote for all these things, seeing as how he has shut out his own party in these negotiations to side with the people that the voters threw out of office last fall. And, if he does pass these budgets using Republican votes, House Democrats need to consider whether or not this is the leader they want going into a very contentious election year. How can you ever trust someone that doesn't brief you on plans and signs agreements with Republicans without your consent?

So, whether he can get the rest of his caucus to join him is another question altogether at this point, and the next two days are shaping up to be pretty wild indeed. Buckle your seat belts; we might be in for quite a ride.